Cousin Violet is recovering from a gallbladder operation. I can give you her address if you would like to send flowers. Aunt Fern has a blockage in the main artery of her neck
and is scheduled for surgery. Uncle Gus has a spot in his eye. There was a flood at the summer cottage. I went out to start the car and opened the door to a cloud of mold and mildew. In our absence, all that flies
and crawls has invaded our kitchen. Sadie’s friend’s mother passed away and Mildred is driving to Boone for the funeral tomorrow. 95 is flooded but she is hoping to take a detour.
Uncle Uther has a newborn baby girl. She has Uther’s chin. The oven is broken. I stayed on hold all morning trying to schedule a repair person. Our friend Hoyt may need a cortisone shot in his hip.
According to Selma, Miss Jane is growing feeble. Your father has a new toothbrush that he says is better than going to the dentist. It’s okay if you hate the window seat and matching pillows; it would just be nice to hear your voice.
My Mother, Killing Mice
My mother was assigned mice by her college Biology professor,
asked to perform experiments involving mazes
and rewards, but she forgot to feed them when she left
for Christmas holiday in a rush of train tickets
and trunks, her best dress and silk scarf wrapped
in tissue paper, my father waiting for her in a top coat
on a platform made vague by arrival. So her mice grew weak
in the glass world of her forgetfulness: fur the color of winter,
cold whiskers, bowls of hunger.
My Mother, Getting Lost
She did not mind a foreign landscape or an absence of cardinal directions. When I rode with her —
windows open, farmhouses made of moonlight — she did not plan a route but let everything
become unfamiliar, her steering wheel unaware of a prime meridian or compass rose.
It was as if she had been born with the earliest star-shaped
Babylonian Map inside her: all highways surrounded by a bitter river, land beginning in mountains
but ending in marsh, each destination a triangular wedge where a bull dwells or the sun is not visible,
beyond the flight of birds.
Faith Shearin’s books of poetry include: The Owl Question (May Swenson Award), Moving the Piano (SFA University Press), Telling the Bees (SFA University Press), Orpheus, Turning (Dogfish Head Poetry Prize), Darwin’s Daughter (SFA University Press), and Lost Language (Press 53). She has received awards from Yaddo, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Recent work has been read aloud on The Writer’s Almanac and included in American Life in Poetry.