For My Mother
When my mother dies, I feel that somehow,
I’ll know exactly what to do.
Not because she’s explained what
her funeral must entail for the
past seven years now,
or because I attended my grandfather’s
open – casket wake at the newborn age of eight.
I suppose it could be some sort of control issue.
I am sure that we will be sitting in a hospital
room in some far away town or city filled with
new smells and an unfamiliar landscape.
Upon entering, I’ll take off your socks first,
one by one, and begin to wash your feet,
so you’ll know that it’s me —
I’ll clean the grime that’s visible only to me
that the nurses irresponsibly let collect between your toes.
You’ll feel the refreshing cool of alcohol
as I remove the polish remaining on your toes
from my last weekly pedicure to you;
I’ll know you want to go purely.
Your clothes will be next –
against all orders of nurses and staff
and your own mother and husband,
I’ll lift your graceful, cat – like back
up off the pillow, gently, like you’ve
always taught and wanted me to be,
and untie your gown,
lifting it away like wrapping paper
and quietly crushing it under the table.
Your breasts stare at me,
like two concealed souls trapped inside some pool-
some other planet’s pool-
your loose skin’s surface rippling with your every breath,
the life hanging on in them,
afraid to spill out over the edges and be gone-
I’ll wash them and your neck with warm water.
It amazes me how these bittersweet tables
have turned, you look at me with grateful eyes –
we are so much more than mother and child,
Madonna and child,
woman and woman,
we are like the two last puppies of a litter
left in the whelping box,
anticipating where the other craves warm, real touch.
So I take out the tiger balm because
it smells like our old house.
I rub it under your toes,
untying the knots you’ve always battled
that are reflective of your weak sinus cavities.
Everyone has left the room –
cats escape my black bag of tricks;
they are all around you, like the old days.
I apply them to you like a midwife does leeches –
curling about your neck and defeated chest –
looking like they will transform into stone
and become part of your neo-Rasta sepulcher here.
They say you come into this world
and out of it alone,
but we’ve been napping in the sun
together since I was sewn into your womb.
I will always be there- the cats, the dogs,
and the music I’ve turned on,
loud and tribal –
the reggae, cadence to which I was conceived.
We walk you down this aisle in time;
we are your overdue army,
only one will take you.
Categories: Original Poetry