On the massage table from among the sinews of my neck my mother rises
tiny fragile face slack eyes adrift gray hair flat and waxy.
The young hairdresser and I on either side of her hoist her from her wheelchair
execute a synchronized three-person turn lift her almost nothing
into the only chair of the single-sink salon. She sits there askew silent.
Weeks earlier he flirted with her swept her silver hair into a Marilyn.
She smiled answered in the rhythms of language. Anyone who knew her
could tell she was flirting back.
I keep dreaming poems about my mother can’t tell which of us won’t
let the other go.
One summer a copperhead appears beside the front step coiled beneath a pot
of pink impatiens. Now pages fill: That the copperhead coils beneath the pink
impatiens over and over. The next line never comes.
My first day of school I cry so long the teacher comes kneels beside me
tells me my mother is coming to collect me. Convulsing in my belly slows
to ragged breathing. A miracle: She heard me crying! She’s coming!
When she walks in she shows the teacher her smiling face. To me she
the face of ice.
I will never get warm.
Copperheads hibernate November to February March now Imagine
fully awake in their dens waiting for this frigid wind to stop.