My Mother Is Afraid of the Floor
and everything else that is stone hard cold
or slippery or dead, indifferent as bones,
the color of light when it lies flat, no needle
of surprise or love or dirt to plant her hand
inside, no seedling either since it must be my fault
she’s rushed along the stair of her next fall,
even though I promise her she’ll never fall
while I’ve got her arm, though the bannister is cold
it’s stuck solid to the wall, terror is the fault
line cracking her body, which is nothing but bones
inside of cloth, a bit of venom to grip my hand
and a dose of shrill calculation. Age is a dull needle
injected slowly. That is to say—time without its needle
points in one direction now, objects seem to fall
all by themselves. There are bruises on her hand
I don’t know how, since she is always cold
and stays in bed. What propels the center of the bones
when nerves are lost and messages begin to falter—
you can’t blame the vertebrae, it’s not their fault
of course, they have no cranial to needle
them along, it must be tension that keeps track of bones,
whose marrow is only sweet when the scaffolding falls.
It’s the stiffening of blood that makes the joints feel cold
-er at extremities, the flexible, proficiency of hands
that is the miracle of thumbs, how we got to be handier
than animals, which ends eventually. It must be our fault
since she hates us all, floating on her island of fog and cold,
as we smile on our way elsewhere, her voice a bitter needle
Why is the world shaking, but we don’t ever fall?
I can’t get away from her fast enough. I am turning into bones
also. There is a red mark on my arm above the wrist and bone.
I don’t know how it got there. My face looks like a hand
me down of hers, as another stretch of muscle falls
from its perch of youthfulness, a map of the body’s faults
for others to follow, another stitch from the day’s needle
to sew the daughter back inside her mother’s cold.
Is it my mother’s fault her hands fall like two needles of cold bone?
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