Child to Mother
It's not the time you spent
in the nursing home
forced to sit in a wheelchair
and attend therapy sessions
I want to remember.
but us chopping our garden,
the way I laughed when I pulled
from my pants a turnip leaf
that had stuck to them
like a piece of felt,
picking the tomatoes
just before they turned red,
pulling up the largest onions
to mince for chow-chow,
the feathered, embossed
and sequined frocks
we made from fabric fragments
fit only for my Barbie dolls.
I want to remember you wearing
your grey pin-striped suit,
four-inch suede heels,
red hat with its floppy brim secured by your pearl hat pin.
X, letter, not last name,
a subsitute for a name
no longer wanted.
Madame, French for Mrs.
drop the e and in English
she's a whore.
Sargent dropped the left strap
of shiny off her shoulder,
plunged the neck line,
laid bare the full chest,
cinched the already small waist,
had her coyly twist her arm.
When scandal ensued,
he returned the jewels
to their place,
kept the name,
maintained the portrait
was the best he'd ever done.
My Peace Prize
108 sun salutations completed
on the autumn equinox
counted with lemon drops instead of beads
A Mala Celebration
—a risky idea for the Christian South
It has to sound familiar
has to be fun
draw a number
win a mat
win a bag
maybe a nice flower
PIZZA and BEER SOCIAL after activity
108 sun salutations completed in three hours,
recognized by an anguished, inspiring lily
Why have I won, a potted flower?
I have cats!
It’s gonna get eaten!
Maybe I should set it on the grave
of some person unknown
No, that feels wrong.
Mom. When you died, I was given a lily—
it had wide green leaves with one perfect white bloom
appropriate—when there’s someone to be remembered
now, in my house, the plant looks . . .odd
In the thinness of twilight,
a dog howls
the neighbor’s puppy whines
my dog barks while pacing the floor
At, sunrise the woman across the street
that once saw a shooting star and said
“A baby been born!”
when the sky turned green, she said
“A tornado coming!"
when she saw an owl, she said
“I’m gonna get that money I been praying for!
Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!”
—the woman I plan to ask about the dogs
108 sun salutations done for personal healing
108 sun salutations for resolving conflicts with friends
108 sun salutations to cease all wars
108 sun salutations offered in gratitude to the Divine
One lily for an eighty-eight- year old soul
A grave digger turned into the subdivision before me
with his helper sitting in the back
where the pulley shovels and sandbags
take most of the free room and I knew. . .
the light held long enough for them to disappear
before the white hearse followed by one white family car
and a broken possession sped down Main Street
a quiet entombment just after breakfast
before the white summer heat
begins to bake the living
it’s been a year and two days
since I‘ve been in a grave yard
you didn’t want me there after the funeral
didn’t want more tears
no more fresh flowers
“Give me my roses while I still live and can enjoy them”
it’s been one year since the features of your face
were forced to forever live only in my memory
in my picture album
the rituals of death still fill
my throat with the thickness
that reminds me of the fresh salt free peanut butter
we used to buy from the Whole Foods store
it came in a white and navy blue tub
I used to try eating it by the spoonful
it always had a small amount of oil on the surface
but still stuck to the roof of my mouth
I reach for my drink bottle—empty. . .
you would have poured me a glass of water
the only elixir for this fullness
that can’t be—won’t be—swallowed