after Oppenheim, for country mothers
No sooner had Flood found her bracelet
than they chopped off her hand.
Standard punishment for counting cards, she replied
with an abacus of pearls, weighing my earlobes
in chandeliers. The x-ray wave is my maternal self, her
carbon reflecting my interest in women—the deluge
concept. I put her on the line when I need the carousel
time, the pause between numbers
when the dial retracts and the cradle stares back.
Her freshwaters became a pain scale, proving trauma
can sync, if not tally, so I salt what I can, on her
behalf. So what if earrings compromise the scan? Bangles
are shifty, and even before, her wrists were rattling
axles.If you had one body for the rest of your life, how
would you top it? What’s one bridge you want
to burn before the water reaches our chins?
My answer to most things is Flood—fur
on the saucer, dirt in the tea. I can’t build a boat
but I can face my face, looking like hers. When the clouds burn
off I’ll starfish, sprawling just outside her field of vision—she,
a femur distilled by the sun, me, a bleached-out familiar
faking a shrug. Stick around this time. See what happens.
But there’s noise below the image, her captioned
lip reads: No Higher Resolution Available.
Miles from the cemetery, I consider that
an epitaph. She already lent landlocked new meaning—
her legs became a tell in the last round, restless
around the kids. The four of us, pacing the prairie. Her
quarter sections. Her stage four. I inherited this arm
hair, the switch that trips when an ant
crawls up my sleeve. Black and loam, queen
of spades. It won’t bite. Call this a statement
piece, set in stone. A decent hand, tossed
on the table. Four of a kind. Pass the shovel.