22 February 2010

Abe Louise Young

[Abe Louise Young from Hawaii Review]

Torn Screens

My mother is home with one breast, almost
sleep-walking. Three decades of mercury,
burning batteries, falling ash & all the plastic mysteries
compacted into garbage bags–

                   Trash incinerators
downriver are still stitching torn stockings of smoke
to the skyline, long legs of fire.
A boat’s a hat on house;
     a slab’s covered with underwear,

a cardinal pecks at a nest; the bag of birdseed molds,
& shudders to the other side
of the laundry room by sheer gyrations
of maggots.
I know nothing; can’t laugh back.

We sit inside, eat General Tsao’s Chicken dripping
with syrup. Talk feral cats. Her sternum’s purple
& black. Her teeth are good, the crowns
are hanging on, though someone stole
her eyelashes.

Better have a baby
quick. Crazy laugh. And then she cries: her voice
is two tones deeper, dry, with the rattle of a hammer
dropped a long way down
the well.

Twenty years ago we caught rabbits
in the swamp that’s since turned iridescent green,
roped off with caution tape.
There’s an oil slick beautifying the lake.

The porch is falling down
     & once was screened
against mosquitoes but the screens got torn & now
are curtains sliced open in a swag,
night theater.

I kiss her cheek, she holds my hand.
We radiate together.

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