Another night of forgetting, Mother blurs
into the bathroom mirror. I watch her
forget my dog’s still slumber, his scarred
throat. How she found the fish bones
that claimed his last breath. How his tongue turned
the color of milk, how we dug
the hole and knelt in the April dirt. She calls
and calls his name. He doesn’t come.
She taught me to arrange the crayons
in a perfect line, fingers
cradling color as though only skin
could cover light. That was the year
it began: Mother heard the wind sing
of panacea, saw pretty ghosts, watched
the lemons work themselves to rot. The year
honey was supposed to stick, but didn’t.
Mother always talked of rivers—
boats of blood, ties of daughters
to sisters to brothers to fathers to mothers.
One by one, her rivers split into streams:
the scarf she wore yesterday, the reason
she climbed the stairs, my name caught,
a fish bone in her throat.
She once told me of the fish in the markets,
chained to beds of ice, homes
long forgotten. I can imagine the iron grip
on their spines. Still, like her
one day I may not keep myself
from reaching into the gut of a mirror.
Katherine Vandermel is a writer who thinks of writing as painting: each word imbues the world with coloration. She loves music and a good, warm croissant. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, Eunoia Review, Life in 10 Minutes, and Poetry Resistance from Youth.