She sees her resemblance to the dog,
waiting all day for him to take her out; drooling and waggling
those useless body parts when no one is watching.
She slips a Lonely Planet in his half-opened drawer
and prays to God, Kwan Yin and Yemaya.
Life is a cheat – it has given her plenty
but none of what she really wants.
She needs to hold her son’s hand one more time –
perhaps as they cross a foreign road that he cannot pronounce,
and arrive at where her command was his only world:
Behave like a good boy or hand me that feather stick.
She’d watch him cringe like a scared puppy.
She wants to be a mother again,
and guide her son back to the world
where she is still the formidable breasts
and disciplining stick-hand.
At her feet, the dog loyally licks everyone’s
hands and face. She only has her hands –
No cream could whiten the liver spots.
Those hands, spavined and slow,
have nothing to do while waiting for him to return.
The Lonely Planet –
too young and glossy to be this used,
lies coyly on his tax folder. What more
can he do to balance his life?
A shot of whiskey, a pill for the ache,
or a nod from the young man
rolling on a Cyr wheel on the street?
During a panic attack he stands very still.
Out of his rattling teeth
he can feel his mother’s thin hands –
tawdry veined fingers raw
with needs, slightly inarticulate
and mostly arthritic,
half a plead and half a
lifetime of motherly love –
commanding a last linger
on his face.
Wing Yau is a poet based in Melbourne, Australia, whose work appears or is forthcoming in Peril Magazine, Gargouille Literary Journal, and Mascara Literary Review. Wing is currently unemployed but her dog doesn’t mind as long as there’s a treat after giving a high-five.