My Mother Has the Finest Eyes

by | Jun 13, 2014 | Book Reviews

My Mother Has the Finest Eyes:
A Collection of Poetry and Reflection
Lois Zachary, 2013
3rd edition, 51 pages
ISBN 978-1-491-20041-4

What’s Left Behind
Poems by Michal Mahgerefteh
Poetica Publishing, 2013
Second edition, 32 pages, $15.00
ISBN 978-0-9636410-2-5

Michal Mahgerefteh is a poet and artist from Norfolk, Va.Lois Zachary is an internationally recognized expert on mentoring excellence, the president of Leadership Development Services and director of its Center for Mentoring Excellence in Phoenix, Arizona.

They have never met, but sadly shared the need to deal with the grief of losing their mothers; Lois’ mother was afflicted with Alzheimer’s for a decade before she passed away. Michal’s mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer when only 41 years old; her father, to whom her slim elegiac volume is dedicated, supported and cared for her mother for more than 25 years, until her passing in 2010.

Zachary ends her touching collection by observing that “this is not the first funeral we’ve held for Mom. Nor is it the second, It is, however, the final one…Mom died in pieces and each with a physical loss, something died inside of her. In a very real sense, she was a witness to her own funeral.”

Mahgerefteh begs for “No More Hurt
… all I want is to flee from your dark days
that sealed My Book of Life
until the hurt no longer
bears your name

In the eponymous verse Zachary observes that

“My mother has the finest eyes
In all the world. Why say,
things that to me are dark as night
To her are bright as day

And as the disease progresses she notes that

Ten years pass in ten days
Each visit I meet another stranger
Multiple aspects of a decaying person
…She has lost her will to go on…
Staring into unknown space
Resigned, silenced and motionless
She has become a stranger to herself.

Some of Zachary’s thoughts are delicate sketches, almost like sky writing:

How do you say goodbye
To put closure on a relationship
That endures life in a different time and space?
And for Mahgerefteh;
The end of life draws near. Birth
To death, like the hours before
Dawn…darkness dissolves…

Author Zachary assembled most of her very moving work some years ago, but has now polished it up a bit (not that it needed any) and given it a deserved life as a published work, for which we have reason to be grateful.

In What’s Left Behind, we have a second edition as well, one which reminds us of the unbearable burden that must be borne.

And During the Shivah
our house
holds its breath in mourning
Father in his bereavement
speaks only when necessary
we exchange muted conversations
restrained silences
he just sits there
stiff against the rough Mediterranean
till the mist rolls in
softening the sharp edges of the shoreline
with a slow sway
turning into a blue-black bowl of night sky

Finally it should be noted that Michal Mahgerefteh is the editor and publisher of Poetica Magazine, the fall edition featured Star of David, poems by Rick Black, winner of the 2012 Poetica Magazine Chapbook Contest.