She walked straight into the gaping wound
of another woman’s death —
wondering no doubt, if such a war
could ever be won.
I was six, afraid of her clothes,
her swinging purse that pruned
dead limbs of unfixable dreams.
All at once, old photographs
came off the walls.
A moving truck arrived like mace.
Perhaps I grew envious moss
the color of emerald and grass.
Father’s kiss forgot my forehead,
tried her lips like brand new shoes.
I wanted them to pinch and hurt.
Suddenly I was pocket change —
she was stacks of dollar bills
bribing the grief to retreat.

I didn’t want a different draft
of sweet perfume on apron strings.
I didn’t want to sew a button
only to lose its circle to fate.
“You’ll call her Mom,” he said aloud.
With lilies gone, planted at tilts
around the stone of a grave,
I looked for black capes and a broom —
a cauldron of logical steam.
I didn’t want her slippers
lounging near the bed.
I didn’t want yours
boxed and left beside the trash
for passes of a Goodwill van.
I was still grabbing at sleeves
of your shirts like willow puffs that
settle away from a desperate hand.
“You’ll call her Mom,” he said aloud.
Those letters were shreddable stars.

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