Death as a Mother

Who is always yawning,
and sometimes careless.

The daffodils strung along
the rafters have fizzled

and popped: quietly, root
nooses dim in protest,

in disquiet. There resides
a negative space within

the cupboard, baring sand-
polished teeth from hunger,

this midday ache. Mother
rubs pea-sized toothpaste

over wood grain, then thinks
to shove sheaves of angel hair

pasta down our throats. Dry
straws puncture the pathway

of veins. Soaks of cranberry
pink. All day we cling to

Mother’s hands like scabs
of dried fruit, what her milk-

spotted nails cannot scrape
away. Mother blinks tiredly

every noon, with each cargo
of squalling children, a new

family of plums dimpled
by constellations of dim fur.

The mailman waits. Neither
knows how to love decay,

how to carry it like an
infant, to first let it grow,

then go. How to shape warm
breath and a pulse from rust-

peppered capellini, blue spray
of Eden’s figs, grocery mildew.

Jacqueline He is a high school junior from the Harker School in San Jose, California. Her work has been published in Moledro Magazine, Teen Ink, and elsewhere.

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