Mother Who Didn't


from MHPQ2

Mother who didn’t.
My baby-frailty was not enough to bind you to my body.

Yellowed skin and eyes,
my sudden blurted cry, the hole

I made of you.
Mother who didn’t.

Why’d you mix
a big screwdriver

in a thick
robin’s-egg cup, gulp then fall sleeping

like a putrid angel, to a tangled blanket
in the den-floor?

I found you when I pecked open the door,
slunk past your rumpled body and slurped the bitter juice.

Who do you talk DOS to?
Bathed in RGB-screen’s flicker?

The computer’s plastic shell is an off-white oyster.
You say he’s down the street but now he’s on the couch.
I don’t let you talk to me.
Mother who didn’t.

Why was this not the right place to land?
Why let the babies run through you like chicks through the kill-shoot?

Why did you slap me when I tried your perfume?
Why is this all I remember?

Mint and leather. I remember
your chest, sun-spotted and tan with small gold chain dangling.

How you must have held me there, loved me there sometimes.
Mother who didn’t

take children to school.
Woke with phone’s under-bed shout.

Chalk-mouthed, limped the house, found us gone, garage agape,
lunch money still on the counter where dad had left it.

You waited
on bent-knee in bathrobe

Hand-wringing in front of the bay window.
Our stomachs flipped

when you lunged headlong into the yard
Then beat us your worst.