Look away from the discarded woman who serves your meal
With weary sincerity, her smile paperclipped to the corner of her mouth.
Rust streaks her hair and she’s unaware of how she’s supposed to feel
About the footprint on her chest and the compassionate eyes of the south.
Look away from the fear leaking into her eyes like oil clouded in a drain.
She’s a flower flattened in a forgotten tome, something about Rome
That now doubles as the leg of her couch, hiding her purple hyacinth pain.
Her parched prayers buried by leaves, scent her dreams a rich and earthy loam.
Look away from the lies she clutches to her chest with white-knuckled hope
While she kneels yet again on your promise to keep the moths from her lip.
They thrash their wings whenever she sings under her breath, scrubbing with soap
At a need that continues to bleed, loosening her mind and never your faithless grip.
Your dingy Ely lace stains the sunlight on my curtained face
A sour color that spills to the floor in pools of tawdry
Baubles fit for the tumored throat of sainted Sister Audrey.
You towel endlessly at the plastic tablecloth in some gritty sugar chase
Of percussive sounds where rats abound on Gretna’s graveled graves.
You’ve grown old, faded viper with faded words and faded eyes,
A tiny thing tied to your chair, haunting me with your wet chin
And half sentences of unraveled remembrances tangled in your Ophelia grin.
I unearthed the archaeology of our family in your dirty little lies
Above your grimy kitchen floor and open door that never let us in.
Your rattled cough persists like my prayer upon the agate rosary bead
I hide within my sleeve, fingering a sorrowful mystery
That scourges my childhood and crowns our bloody history
With doilies you didn’t crochet disguising the hugs you didn’t need.
I am braiding flowers in my hair when I finally fall from your memory.
You reach depths of honesty and description which some, with their most sincere attempts, never begin to touch. Not a pleasant image, nor a proud story. But the skill portrayed in the telling and the crafting and structure are absolutely awe-inspiring and almost crippling.
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