The sand sparkled like white mica. The beach
stretched beneath and beyond the boardwalk. Back then,
before your mother’s hangovers caused the sun
to make her head feel pounded like the puck
of the strongman game at Playland, she
was there with you—offering bologna sandwiches
on Kaiser rolls and peaches whose sweet juice
ran down your chin.
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs. She’d stand
ankle-deep in the water, shading her eyes
to watch that you didn’t drown.
Decades later, when your mother
is in a psych ward, jabbering, tied
to her railed bed, you see her
lips: opening, closing like a fish,
her hands fisted into claws, her eyes
sealed. But you remember
the times she’d wade out to teach you
to float—her arms becoming your raft,
you squinting into her smiling face,
her blue eyes looking larger
with her dark hair covered
by her white bathing cap.
It continues to snow dust.
The sun comes out of the closet.
Jays enter under the door
jumping over a line of air.
Maybe it was just the light,
cracked somewhere, leaked out,
lucky—I thought you shifted away
in voice, my mouth to hear,
My senses are a cushion, and yet this horror appears to taste my morrow. My alarms are useless because they are on fire with the rest of my home.
Be honest now—
just for a minute; I cried.
I had him locked out—
a perfectly good wish.
Privately, for over a year now you drove off and left me.
The place cooled down beaming and bright—
put my name on a silencer (it’s not the end of the world).
In the mirror, the wooden bust of Christ Nicodemus carved
and Joseph commended to the sea, stares out for reflection.
Only a true spell
of fittingly glamorous phenomena
repaired sunstruck imagination—
Too big for your body, the whale of a bed will go on sale; also the dresser, its
three-linked mirrors tall as sails.
The Nazis are back in town.
No, I know. They never, ever left.