St. Bridget’s Well, a poem

Inside a shrine there is a pillow,

cold and damp next to a waterfall,

tattered and worn.

It used to belong to someone,

maybe a son, a wife — a life.

They’d once rested there to find some peace.

My mother’s pillow smells of her musk,

soft with the imprint of her head

over and over,

dusted with her hair.

Her life is in her pillow,

like this pillow in the well

that once held life and now holds a soul.

My mother’s pillow is a haven;

it keeps more of her than our house or her clothes.

I lie on its softness and soak in her being

because she holds my life in her arms and

in the foam of her pillow.

Inside a shrine there is a pillow,

not entirely different from hers,

and it could hold a mother,

like my mother’s holds her,

like my dreams squeeze her tightly,

hard like her voice when she’s angry,

cool like the ocean mist she breathes,

in and out,

in and out,

through slow even rises,

the waves of her soul.

Our life is in her pillow,

and the well drips into its foam and cotton,

dousing the dreams its owner once had,

soaking the life that


and is gone.

My mother’s pillow

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