Peter Cooley

October 24, 2021 Cooley Peter



After I’m dead, will the world will remember me
as I remember my mother, morning flickering today
through the trees, especially the upper branches?
Light answering light, Audubon Park, New Orleans.
What kind of mother was she? the page wants to know
since it has been taught poetry is discovered music.
Look, I’ll tell you, give me a minute—stars
in transit, that what she was, radiance!
while last night’s page still tries to raise a head,
its multiple faces I keep stomping down.
Was I a good mother? the light asks suddenly.
More than good, I answer, Mother, here I am, singing,
despite the agonies I put you through, hurrying
entangling myself in more. Watch, I’m walking
where I used to run, with light, my legs fire
to carry my body through these trees, live oaks
New Orleans’ ancestral, aged, own.
Legend writes they predate the birth of Christ.
Someday light will enter me entirely, Mother,
mother light, father light, my own light then.
We’ll all be talking. A different conversation.

Peter Cooley is Professor Emeritus at Tulane University and was Louisiana Poet Laureate 2015-2017. His 11th book was THE ONE CERTAIN THING, elegies for his wife, who died in 2018.