Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hold Your Chew or Spit


Just once, when I call, I would like my mother
to tell me she is feeling fine, life is good, I’ve got
moxie in my mojo this morning, she might say, if
she was the sort of person who had folksy phrases
at her disposal, so that when we heard them—
those of us who have known her all these years,
who have unstrung her string beans and shucked peas
on her patio, watched while she stood over a frying pan
full of Crisco and fried chicken, rode in the back
of the ’56 Ford she borrowed to take us to Sunday
School, all activities that ought to have made her busier
with colorful language than a stump-tailed cow
in fly time—we all could say, “Oh, mom, you’re a caution,
you’re a spitfire, you are. ‘Moxie in your mojo?’”
and how we’d laugh. But, no, mom only starts
at the top and works her way down, whenever I call,
from the sinuses to the rotator cuffs to the left leg
that goes entirely numb by suppertime. And maybe
there is something comforting for her in the enumeration,
much as there is for me when I mark the passing
of wildflowers from season to season, from spring beauty
to lupine, orchids to meadow rue. Who knows if this
might be the day we stumble upon a bright shoal
of mariposa lilies or a crusted carbuncle of boils
gently seeping at the nape of her neck?