This is a poem on my other’s body,
I mean, my mother’s body, I mean the one
who saved her braid of blue-black hair
in a drawer when I was little.
Meaning one I could lean against —
against not in resistance. Fuzzy dress
of wuzzy one. Red lipstick one.
Kitchen one. Her one to me,
bad-ger bad-ger —
or so I heard. The one body I write on
like Daddy’s blank studio wall
with my colored pencils.
About seeing her skin
as she bathed in the afternoon —
was I five? It was summer.
Then today’s winter where again
I call that bath to mind.
I cannot leave her body alone.
Which is how I found Mother in the bath
escaping the heat of a 1950s house,
Father on a ladder with blowtorch
to scrape the paint off the outside.
The sun in the suburbs
simmered the tar roof over our rooms
in the town where only wasps lived
inside paper cells beneath eaves and roots.
And they hurt very much, the wasps.
Now I am sixty. Sweet as dried papaya.
My hair, a bit tarnished,
my inmost, null.
Memory is failing away
as if an image shattered to shards then
recollected for a kaleidoscope:
I click the pieces into sharp arrangements —
grouse, crow, craven
— no, now, my own daughter turns sovereign