for my mother
You drove to Arizona to see your dying friend.
She was dead when you got there,
slipped behind some curtain, only her body remained.
We have been made, been built, like moths
made of bronze, tiny bells sleeping in the quiet heat of June.
But then we are needed.
Our bodies shake open, an echo rings out like bats
swarming out of that pepper tree on First Street.
You didn’t arrive too late. Your dead friend’s husband
tried to hang himself, you were meant to walk
into that moment, cut his rope with your eyes – make him tea.
When J. died I was a shadow of a mother, carrying pills,
cleaning his friend’s knuckles that they bashed into brick walls.
On Sukkot I used a plastic spoon to kill a wasp
who was slowly drowning in honey.
The Rabbi said, “You’re not allowed to kill anything on Yontif.”
I wouldn’t listen. His eyes widened.
“If you care so much about insects – how much more so people?”
Mother, we try to save lost men with our curvy bodies
and open mouths. Men who are more like top hats than men –
we try to live in them, make welcome mats out of felt,
plant red geraniums in the windows we carved with our fists.
A wet bird slick with newness falls from her nest,
cracks her skull. We fold her in our palms and praise
what was and what could have been.
In one sound, we take care of the tiny morsels
only G-d remembers.
When it is time, we go back to resting.
Sleeping heroines with Baruch HaShem in our lungs,
bronze feet, go ahead – swing our ropes
pull at our hips, we will prove it,
we will ring.
Rae Rose’s latest work can be found in Lilith Magazine. She lives in Portland, Oregon.