When I talk to her on the phone
she believes I’m at the store buying fruit,
or at the mall, trying on shoes. She asks me
to pick things up: “Don’t forget the napkins,”
she’ll say. “Remember to get two percent,
not whole.” In my cold, Court Street apartment
in Brooklyn, not far from the bridge,
I collapse. Because I am not nearby,
I will not see her in a few minutes.
The truth is I will never again see the mother
I know, the one always halfway through
four different books, or making the light
on the water perfect in her pastel landscapes.
This version of her believes everyone
she has ever known lives around the corner
in a cul-de-sac and she will see them Sunday
at the ten o’clock service. No matter how long
they’ve been gone, I say, “Isn’t that nice, Mom?
Something to look forward to.”
This summer, when I visit, I’ll bring fresh bagels
and a lard bread from Mazzola’s Bakery and
a pile of poems she’ll set to the side
where, within a couple of hours,
they’ll be lost beneath the flowers
of her crisp, clean sheets.