Robert Creeley in conversation with his mother, 1970 (MP3 oral history)

photos by Jan Erik Vold, Bolinas, Spring 1972

Creeley in conversation with his mother on her first visit to Gloucester, probably summer 1970: 
audio file courtesy PennSound: (32:32):  MP3
(Sidney Goldfarb comes into the conversation at the end.)

For My Mother: Genevieve Jules Creeley 
April 8, 1887 - October 7, 1972

Tender, semi-
articulate flickers
of your

presence, all 
those years

now, eighty-
five, impossible to
count them

one by one, like
addition, sub-
traction, missing

not one. The last
curled up, in
on yourself,

position you take
in the bed, hair
wisped up

on your head, a
top knot, body
skeletal, eyes

closed against,
it must be,
further disturbance––

breathing a skim
of time, lightly
kicks the intervals––

days, days and 
years of it,
work, changes,

sweet flesh caught
at the edges,
dignity's faded

dilemma. It
is your life, oh
no one's

forgotten anything
ever. They want
to make you

happy when 
they remember. Walk
a little, get

up, now, die
easily, into

singleness, too
tired with it
to keep

on and on.
Waves break at
the darkness

under the road, sounds
in the faint
night's softness. Look

at them, catching
the light, white
edge as they turn––

always again
and again. Dead
one, two,

three hours––
all these minutes
pass. Is it,

was it, ever    
you alone
again, how

long you kept
at it, your 
pride, your

lovely, confusing
discretion. Mother, I
love youfor

whatever that

than I know, body
gave me my
own, generous,

inexorable place
of you. I feel
the mouth's sluggish-

ness, slips on
turns of things
said, to you,

too soon, too late,
wants to 
go back to beginning,

smells of the hospital
room, the doctor
she responds

to now, the
order––get me 
there. "Death's 
let you out––"

comes true,
this, that,

endlessly circular
life, and we
came back

to see you one
time, this

time? Your head
it seemed, your

eyes wanted,
I thought,
to see

who it was.
I am here,
and will follow.


This poem originally appear in Away and was collected in the first volume of the University of California Press collected poems. 
© Estate of Robert Creeley. Used with permission.