Sally O’Dowd is the author of the poetry collection Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss.

“Sally,” my mother said.
“Yeah?” I said aloud,
disturbed from a deep sleep.
I did not look up
into the space of the bedroom:
But for a nanosecond,
I thought about it — tempted.
Yet my eyelids held firm;
she wasn’t really there
– was she?
standing in a white nightgown,
was it?
As she used to do
when I was late for school.
I fluffed my pillow
and rejoined my black cat,
his head on my shoulder;
paw stretched across my chest,
his purring dogmatic.
It was only a dream,
nothing to make up words over.
Oh, what my believer friends
would say about my cynicism
Your sadness troubles her.
I’m inclined to support Einstein,
who said it’s arrogant
to believe in the afterlife,
but what if the vision:
was audio recorded
by the dead’s speed of sound;
her first-hand account,
told to my mind
at the moon’s
bed and breakfast:
She, herself stepping
on my faux sheep rug
with her narrow feet . . .

“Waking Up to My Name” is part of the poetry series, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss. What a joy to feature art my sister, Amy, who joins me in calling out to our mother, Ruthie, who died December 29, 2015. The texture of this painting is as complex as grief itself. This is the second poem to feature my sister’s gorgeous work.

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