The world changed around me one day
While I was sitting on the basement stair;
I was tying my shoes.

It was the first memory of recognizing awe–
Awe and incomprehension on my mother’s face.
Into what kind of world had she brought her children?

She looked at me and stood still as a stone;
Her eyes were searching the room for the words to say,
But words would not come that morning.

She needed to tell me it would all be okay–
To comfort her son when all the lights had been put out–
Not for me, but for herself.

She saw my future changing, though she did not understand it,
And felt a mother’s fear facing the unknown.
I looked back at her unaware.

I could not appreciate what had been lost–
Lives, yes, but also the world we had known:
Each precious, gone now forevermore.

In time, my mother understood more and feared less,
And as I grew older, I know I came to understand, too,
From the way I felt this morning upon seeing the half-masted flag.