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Original publication: INK, SWEAT, AND TEARS (Aug 21)


I have become my mother, always sweeping
through the corners of our corners, her broom
in search of imperfection to eviscerate.
Life is so untidy, but she has found ways
to be neat. She picks up all the scattered
things left lying, half-discarded, like
her job, my grades, our plates, the future,
all my father’s loose and tangled ends—
she puts the dust of all our footprints
in her pocket. Remember, now, to breathe.

Grace to the mother says the emphysemic,
but this is not the garden where all
loves end—this is just the house where all
doors close and journeys die. Death to the Rose.

I have become my mother, always praying
for a house without a garden, always fearing
that the gods she buries will not grow.
My bones and skin are sloughing into hers,
my eyes have creased along her lines. I will
live in stone-walled terraces and worship
alabaster lamps. Dust is war, and I
a soldier of defeat; all my strength
is in surrender, in endurance and
in breath that I remember now, to breathe.

Published inPoetryWriting