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Mother's Day: Thoughts on a Generation

T.S. Eliot wrote in “Little Gidding” that
We shall not cease from exploration
               And the end of all our exploring
              Will be to arrive where we started
               And know the place for the first time. Sometimes, the person we’re closest with can be the most difficult to comprehend. Lately I’ve been writing poems that reach back toward my mother, who died in 2012. Many of the poems arrived while I was hiking alone in Scotland. Like Cheryl Strayed in her Pacific Coast trek, it took solitude, as well as encounters with women across the Highland landscape who were mentors, guides, occasionally saviors, for me to begin to consider my mother’s life and my own as both a reaction to, and completion of, hers. My mother came out of that generation born in the Depression, their lives upended by the Second World War. Their thirst for experience, for travel, was whetted by the global upheaval – pins in world maps for the missing brothers, letters from distant ports – then qu…