This week’s poem beautifully describes how a person’s memory is imprinted on the body even after it is mostly gone from the mind. I love the different but related ways that images of leaves and a tree help the speaker come to understand what has happened to her mother.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn lives in Harpswell, and her third book, “Echolocation,” will be published by Plume Editions/MadHat Press in March.


By Sally Bliumis-Dunn

Little stirrings

in the dried fallen leaves along the path,


as when I speak to my old mother, and her eyes

widen for a moment then close.

She sits in her chair,

tweed jacket, well-coiffed,

looking as she did in her day,

though now someone else must dress her,


lift the blouse from the hanger,

help her slip it on,

the way she once did

for me. Grab the cuff, she’d say.

The soft tunnel of sleeve

would hold me.


Sometimes we sing.

She only vaguely mouths the words,

though occasionally she’ll drift

along on a note like a leaf lifted by wind

before it stills.

If I sit by her on the couch


she’ll put her head near mine,

my hand in hers.

Her body is how

she remembers now,

the way the growth of a tree,

the twists of its branches, recall

the rain, the snow, the sun.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2016 Sally Bliumis-Dunn. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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