In the kitchen my mother is standing
Broken, arms cradling the dead baby
Of her smoky childhood.
Her eyes are shattered snowglobes
At my entrance,
She wipes her bloody-stained cheeks and smiles
Nothing is wrong, she says. Everything’s fine, please go back to sleep. Her lie is not convincing.
I know what day it is; the anniversary
My grandma, wide-eyed, lying on the bathroom tiles
I was only seven.
I did not understand what was wrong, only knew that my mother’s tears
Were the most terryifying thing I’ve ever seen.
Every year, this day is a reminder
Her absence in the house is a dark bird,
Towering in the corner of every room
Her absence is a presence, every moment lacking dimension
Because she is not there to measure against
My mother cradles herself, the child she once was lifeless in arms
The woman she knew is folding herself smaller and smaller
The memories eroding, becoming fainter and confined to photos
Like the portrait as yellowed as her fingertips, tucked away
Into the pocket that once contained a fresh, beating heart