On the anniversary of my mothers death

A strange ghost appeared by my bed wrapped in turban and shimmering cloth.

It was very eerie the dim light, the slow movement, the slim erect figure

And then she began to speak Yiddish, with a twang and an intonation

I had not heard in years.

she says, You dont know me. But Im a friend

of your mothers from over there, and she talks all the time about your life

and how youre turning out, and how you dont appreciate her,

and I want you to know youre missing

some valuable facts in the way youve got her figured.

Are you one of my aunts who died before I was born? I ask,

as if this predawn visit to my bed was almost expected

and made perfect sense even in the real world.

Why should you look for the irrelevant?

She told me you always want documentation.

What I want you to know

and I think it is the most important item

I can bring from the beyond

is that your mother actually loved you.

Its very kind of you to come all this way,

I say, But why do you need to tell me, why

in this way and why now

after all these years, all my struggles to accept

her inability to accept me?

Ill tell you I dont like to interfere,

and I wouldnt be here now,

if I didnt think it was vital

to the rest of your life

But youve got to admit I look good in this light

The truth is, dear, that naches takes on a different dimension

over there that your mother takes daily pleasure

in your enjoyment of life even if it is a life

she would never have understood when she was burdened

with her own world, her life.

The truth is, Dear, I respond,

is that this is a fantasy Ive contrived

to make the rest of my life easier,

Fantasy shmantasy!

enjoy the liberty!

Take it with the joy

you feel when you unhook your bra

after a long hard day!

I want you to know I am not at all impressed

by the way your generation

always has to come to negative conclusions

from all your analyses.

So why didnt she come herself -

She had to send a delegate?

I realize Im already talking

in her intonation

She was afraid too

She was always afraid of you.

Maybe next time maybe shell come herself.

You never really understood, did you,

how much stronger than her she thought you were

and how you forced her to go to new places

and how she learned eventually

and she went

Even your refusal to hate outright

and to give up on the possibility of understanding.

The fact is -

Youve won

She knows it

and shes proud.

And she said to tell you

she loves the way you read poetry out loud -

even though you still stutter a little

and you always make a couple mistakes.