Space Dust

Outside the cracked kitchen window, a cypress
seems to be caught in the continental drift,
although we are nowhere near the sea.
I take my mother’s hand, fleshless like the claws of a newborn bird.
Gnarled magnolias grapple their way to the ground,
their unbroken buds like every lunar phase in one nocturne;
full, gibbous, crescent, quarter—
waning without warning.

I’d rehearsed what I would say to her,
the truth stuck in the tendon beneath my tongue.
When I was a little girl
I read in a leather-bound book
that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body.
Softer than bone,
powerful as myth.

When I tell her my husband is leaving me,
her face is a CT scan of shock;
blotchy, bunching.
I can only embrace her for so long
before she will tear my radius or ulna with her wisdom teeth
to be born.

She said she wanted to see him again, to say goodbye.
My bones feel like space dust,
imploding under a milky expanse
I’ve taken for granted until now.

I feel the sudden bumpiness of regret—
I have not loved enough.
I did not know him, wincing like a wraith
when the sheet came too close to his eyes.
I did not scream when I saw his resurrection;
some part of me
did not expect him to be the one spared—
to rise up from our bed,
again and again,
before I had time to forget him.

I see my mother, tall as Webster and World Book combined.
It occurs to me that what is easy to open
is not always obsolete.

She measured my adolescence in sugar spoons,
our rapid eye movement started with smeared eyeliner and patent leather.
I dreamed on disposable film of all the doing it takes to die.
She took too many pictures.

I have missed my mother’s garden,
her orchid skin,
the olives littering the earth;
Olympus isn’t as far as we used to think.

On my old school desk a paper weight glistens, dusted with the sheen of the interstellar,
the emaciated arms of a nebula
raking the apex of its atmosphere
with a soft scream.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Forest for the Trees.

Laura Ingram is a tiny girl with large glasses. Her poetry and prose have been published in thirty-eight literary magazines and one large press anthology, among them Gravel, Cactus Heart Press, Juked, Jet Fuel Review, Assonance Literary Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, and Teenage Wasteland Review. Laura loves Harry Potter and Harry Styles, and is a student writer as of now.

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