Dead twelve years, dusty in a drawer
of my heart, like the leaf insects and giant earwigs
in the basement of a natural history museum.
A tiny figurine, still wearing a tattered terrycloth robe,
still holding a glass, although the ice melted long ago.
My no-idea-how-to-love-a-child mother.
My prefer-a-drink-to-playing-with-my daughter mother.
Sometimes late at night I hear her stir, accusing
me of stealing her silver or hiding her sapphire
rings, of not visiting, not calling, not caring,
threatening to beat me with her bristled brush
or toss me out like leftover broccoli and I curl up shaking,
chills shooting my spine, reaching for my stuffed bear
with its bald spots and chewed ear.
Sometimes I hear her weeping for the husband
who wasn’t, the infant who didn’t, for the child
she once was, beaten with the belt
of her father, the fists of her mother,
for the little girl wearing wool sweaters
in summer to hide swelling bruises.
If the figure were any larger, it would break my heart.
Like five loaves and three fishes feeding
five thousand on the shores of Galilee,
like free-flowing ambrosia, the ethereal food
of the gods feasting in gold and marble palaces,
you can swallow grief forever
and still there will be plenty left
in the dry basement where memories linger.
Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.