A Mother’s Queer Art
Something like naiveté
keeps me tethered to these scenes.
But only something like.
Once someone sees dying
they cannot unlive it.
It impresses upon the memory
like a damp cloth on skin
before a fever breaks.
The feeling buries itself in the body’s
shadowy places, its secret spaces.
The unthought known is, simply, this—
That these are the most vulnerable spots.
After all, who goes looking
where shadows meet
to form dark corners of the self?
Existence must be more than your malady.
Sometimes the opacity breaks.
A flash shatters
of a depression.
Through the aperture of re-memory
I looked no more than 5 months old.
Clinging to you: fat-cheeked, wide-faced.
Smiling up at you.
I retraced the movements
from then to any given now.
I pause in places to rest.
I settle for an episode called “Making a Life”—
Mary Kay and cleaning houses, cutting hair, loving me.
The nuanced call about your emergency
provoked only recycled questions.
Naiveté keeps me tethered—
but only something like.
I remember a hospital.
And then our embrace.
We huddled together like high school girlfriends—
cramped for space on your hospital bed.
“I’ll take a nap with you.”
Your breaths were calm.
Your eyes were shut.
Our silence was so ordinary.
Dying is the queerest art.