Pat Mora’s “Gentle Communion” Poetry Explication Essay

May 6, 2022 by Essay Writer

Pat Mora’s Gentle Communion is a poem that addresses the concept of aging and childhood. In addition, it contains a deeper meaning of hope and remembering when a person was “alive”, which means that he or she was able to fully enjoy life. However, the very first line of the poem suggests that the given poem is about a person remembering his or her mother, who passed away.


The poem starts with “Even the long dead are willing to move. / Without a word, she came with me from the desert. / Mornings she wanders through my rooms / making beds, folding socks.” (1. 1-4). The given stanza begins the topic of discussion, which is remembering childhood and adolescent memories when the woman was alive. The first line states that the person is not alive anymore, whereas the second line might state that she arrived from an empty place. It seems that the desert either means the actual place, such as Mexican immigrants traveling through plains to reach some city, or it means from the nothingness of the mind a though appeared about her. The last two lines explain the author’s basic memories of the woman, who used to perform such activities when she was alive.

The next stanza is “Since she can’t hear me anymore, / Mamande ignores the questions I never knew / to ask, about her younger days, her red / hair, the time she fell and broke her nose / in the snow. I will never know.” (2. 1-5). The given stanza further elaborates on the fact that the author’s mother has passed away because the first line claims that they can no longer communicate. It can also be understood that she is alive, but she cannot hear due to old age. However, the author claims that she will not be able to know about her mother’s past, which most likely means that the given person is gone.

The trouble with modern humanity is that people are so afraid of both death and strong feelings that we seek to hide from them, pretending that neither one nor the other exists. Therefore, they often try to distract the grieving person from his or her grief, urging him to take courage, fasten, hold on, and pull himself together. It happens that when a person has strong emotions, frightened relatives drag him or her to the doctor to prescribe tranquilizers, and so on. An important area of ​​work is also the study in conversation with the grieving of the styles of coping behavior that can impede grief and those that can increase the effectiveness of adaptation to the situation of loss.

The author continues with “When I try to make her laugh, / to disprove her sad album face, she leaves / the room, resists me as she resisted / grinning for cameras, make-up, English.” (3. 1-4). In this stanza, it seems that the mother is simply suffering from aging, which affects her mental abilities to experience joy. Nonetheless, it is possible that the author is probably frustrated about not being able to remember her laughing because she was either pictured or remembered as a sad woman. Help in changing the emotional place of the deceased in the life of a grieving person can be expressed in a discussion of rituals, traditions of maintaining the memory of the dead and in normalizing the establishment of new relationships with other people. Thus, the process in the case of uncomplicated grief is aimed at preventing exposure to risk factors and thereby at preventing the development of complicated forms of mourning, leading to persistent maladaptation. This does not lead to anything good, because nature provides a natural mechanism for living grief, which helps to cope with bereavement. If you neglect it, you can immerse yourself in a long, if not life-long depression. It is no accident in traditional societies that are mourning for the dead has always been supported by special rites. In some places, professional mourners are still being invited to the funeral, which helps those present to tune in a suitable way.

The author writes “While I write, she sits and prays, / feet apart, legs never crossed, / the blue housecoat buttoned high / as her hair dries white, girlish / around her head and shoulders.” (4. 1-5). The stanza elaborates on the fact that the author’s mother was a religious woman who prayed a lot. In the first and second lines, the writer remembers her mother’s body position, whereas the third, fourth, and fifth lines describe the overall look of the woman. The poem states “She closes her eyes, bows her head, / and like a child presses her hands together, / her patient flesh steeple, the skin / worn, like the pages of her prayer book.” (5. 1-4). It is clear that the author’s most abundant memories of her mother are mostly prayer images. The first and second line explains how the woman behaved during the prayer, whereas the third and fourth lines focus on how the aging affected her.

In addition, the author writes, “Sometimes I sit in her wide-armed / chair as I once sat in her lap. / Alone, we played a quiet I Spy. / She peeled grapes I still taste.” (6. 1-4). Here, the author brings up her the most distant memories from her childhood through referencing the chair. In addition, she remembers the activities that were done by her and the woman. Finally, the poem states, “She removes the thin skin, place / the luminous coolness on my tongue. / I know not to bite or chew. I wait / for the thick melt, / our private green honey.” (7. 1-5). The last stanza describes the author’s sweetest and the most valuable memories of her mother. Due to this fact, the details of the given memories are highly intricate, such as peeling and not biting.

People’s childhood holds them very tightly: some of them have preserved beautiful memories that seem brighter than the surrounding reality, while others, on the contrary, cannot get rid of long traumatic experiences. Attachment to childhood, unwillingness to leave this age often stem from dissatisfaction with the earliest childhood need for love and care. Infantile behavior, protesting against growing up is a hopeless attempt to satisfy those needs. Modern society supports this behavior, leading us into a culture of leisure and games, helping to escape into an illusory reality, where you can believe that all childhood wishes will be fulfilled.


The central theme of the poem is grief for a mother and childhood memories. Grief is the process of adapting a person to a situation of loss, death of a loved one. In the literature devoted to the psychology of pain, it is considered not so much as a complex of symptoms, but as a process that has regular dynamics – beginning, middle, and completion. If in the process of mourning the state and behavior of the grieving person gradually changes and after some time he returns to life, is productively included in new affairs and deep relationships, then such mourning is usually called uncomplicated.

Although attachment behavior manifests itself especially strongly in childhood, when it is aimed at parents, it continues to be active in adulthood and is usually aimed at some important figures. In this theory, attachment behavior is considered a normal and healthy evolutionarily conditioned part of a person’s organization. Attachment behavior is always updated when a person is sick or experiencing difficulties, and is detected with great intensity when he is frightened or cannot find an attachment figure. In the psychology of grief, it is noted that the unsafe expectations and types of attachment that have developed in childhood can become factors that complicate mourning not only in childhood but in adulthood.


In conclusion, it is highly important to note that the author’s writing can be understood in dual terms. Either the described woman is alive, and she is suffering from her old age, where both physical and mental changes occur, or the mother is no longer alive. The latter seems more plausible because the second stanza eliminates the possibility of communication, which is unlikely even if a person has mental issues. Therefore, it is probable that the author simply discusses and describes the memories of her mother, starting from the most recent ones and finishing the poem by the most distant childhood memory.

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