Songs for my Mother

Anna Hempstead Branch

Her Hands

My mother's hands are cool and fair,
 They can do anything.
Delicate mercies hide them there
 Like flowers in the spring.
When I was small and could not sleep,
 She used to come to me,
And with my cheek upon her hand
 How sure my rest would be.
For everything she ever touched
 Of beautiful or fine,
Their memories living in her hands
 Would warm that sleep of mine.
Her hands remember how they played
 One time in meadow streams, —
And all the flickering song and shade
 Of water took my dreams.
Swift through her haunted fingers pass
 Memories of garden things; —
I dipped my face in flowers and grass
 And sounds of hidden wings.
One time she touched the cloud that kissed
 Brown pastures bleak and far; —
I leaned my cheek into a mist
 And thought I was a star.
All this was very long ago
 And I am grown; but yet
The hand that lured my slumber so
 I never can forget.
For still when drowsiness comes on
 It seems so soft and cool,
Shaped happily beneath my cheek,
 Hollow and beautiful.

Her Words

My mother has the prettiest tricks
 Of words and words and words.
Her talk comes out as smooth and sleek
 As breasts of singing birds.
She shapes her speech all silver fine
 Because she loves it so.
And her own eyes begin to shine
 To hear her stories grow.
And if she goes to make a call
 Or out to take a walk
We leave our work when she returns
 And run to hear her talk.
We had not dreamed these things were so
 Of sorrow and of mirth.
Her speech is as a thousand eyes
 Through which we see the earth.
God wove a web of loveliness,
 Of clouds and stars and birds,
But made not any thing at all
 So beautiful as words.
They shine around our simple earth
 With golden shadowings,
And every common thing they touch
 Is exquisite with wings.
There's nothing poor and nothing small
 But is made fair with them.
They are the hands of living faith
 That touch the garment's hem.
They are as fair as bloom or air,
 They shine like any star,
And I am rich who learned from her
 How beautiful they are.


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