A rude sun smears light over the bedroom window.
I wake with Mama singing; I love the morning.
Love. A word tossed around so much
it has dark circles around its eyes.
I love my socks, fingernails, the way ants follow a soul
from Carver Street to French Place.
Love is a little purple gnome
sitting on the dashboard of an old Chevrolet pick-up.
The seasons’ erratic nails scratch years
of flakey rusted dandruff on its hood.
I am fully awake now. I get to change my mind
and this resentment I have towards the sun.
Love is my sister’s arms around mother’s back.
With an ulcer eating her stomach, she says to Mom,
“Put your arms around my neck, Mama. On the count of three.”
One: They rock. Mom scoots forward.
Two: “Stop fighting me Mama. Let go of the rail.”
Mom kicks against fear with the leg that was left
on the surgeon’s table.
Three: They are one, mother-daughter, cheeks connected
like an umbilical cord.
Mom’s butt is lifted; I grab the pad and put it in the transfer chair.
How time transfers things, the opening and closing of doors,
ways of counting— mother to child, child to mother,
pumps to wheels, panties to diapers, pride to pain.
I will give you an orange dress Mama.
It is the only color brave enough to carry your darkness
in its pocket.
It’s dark now and how I wish the two of you were here with me,
flanking my sides as I walk down this gravel road
with a cocky moon climbing over my head.
- Loretta Diane Walker
Published in Sugared Water Literary Magazine and forthcoming in In This House