Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Mother, before Cremation/Me, Standing before a Mirror Later
for B.C.B. 4/30/29–3/20/11

Room, oh room, you smell nothing of my mother.

I am trying so hard to let you see me. I can’t find my voice, or
don’t trust it anymore since I’m mainly done with lying.

Under water all pain shuffles off, lace breaking in turquoise corridors, circlets of silver.
Naked. See? For a moment I love death

—her rigorous humor. She sleeps in trees. Once I had a voice whole as a red apple.

Whatever darkness is, it insists it is itself. No lying.
All around me, darting shadows, the evening shaped by small dragons.

Where there’s no one I try to withstand simply looking. Statue of crumbled.
One hand over pubis, one on the left breast, alone here
& lying about beauty is too exhausting.

The missing eye in the center of the misspelled word is “youth.”

What I did not expect was to be changed.

My mother’s face was covered with bruises.
My mother’s hair was newly cleaned.
My mother’s torso, sliced stem to stem packed in ice,
hidden with care under dark blue blankets.
My mother changed into nothing.
My mother’s wrists—cut from her final fall.
My mother—completely beautiful.

They burn the blankets also. I hope. I feel everything. The fire.

I kept the sticks & leaves from her hair in a jar, her childlike knitted hat.

Dead women smell of pinecones.

They wouldn’t let me see her legs. She would not have either, so I concurred.

Also, I stole the slight purse of last breath from her mouth
like the coins I stole from her purse as a child.
It tasted of wet bark, bent foxgloves.
Also, my mask is hollow & sticky.

If I tattoo my whole body, will it hide me? Crumble me whole?
Remake me, smooth as water?

Oh, room. Square room, become a cradle.
Mother was deaf long before she was dead—

two leaf blowers in the parking lot on the other side of the wall,
hysteria in the conference room due to sudden loss.

What spells “cross”? The apex made of concordant lines.
Yoking nothing with something creates both.
Is this not obvious, dragon, mirror, woman, hag, corpse?

My lifeline has not changed. There’s a single sour note under blue ice packs.
I can’t feel anything. Now I can again.

All day someone keeps skywriting circles in the heavens.
They pipe Muzak in speakers hung over her body.

Also, a small bucolic landscape—my mouth & the taste of her fingers, her frozen cheeks.
Her kiss. I took some pictures. They comfort me. She grows more yellow.

Come back tomorrow, dear one. Wait just one more day.

Stay at my right shoulder like a wing.
I’ll finish the story I began when you slept.

I’ll buy you a pony.
I’ll bring back your darling.

I do not recognize my arms. Silly to lie that this is beauty
newly made in the dignified image of time. I want cock.

Dragons—did you know there are chains on this body temple?
When I move, they sigh—slight whistles, exhalations ricocheting
all corners of the room, marking the days with tiny unknown symbols.

I remember the worlds within the world. The image of my face is wounded.
It has gotten dark, pretty dragon. We must love this as well. So

come close & kiss me. Come near, please, to kiss me.
Tell me the story from the beginning.  

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