Image: “Style Central,” by Leah Dockrill, collage on canvas, 12×12 in.
Mother Darling Smokes a Spliff
Ahhh. The jolt of my gender first – the spurt
of its outline firm, like the sudden seize
of puberty I swarm to re-learn my body,
to reinvent the prison-plex of my breasts,
to vogue below the mooncream
of this London alley until I find
the me who used to dream in doilies,
who hadn’t felt the zippered breath
of Wendy nest below her flesh.
Let me feel the fake green felt
of the pool table scrape between my legs,
the spilled ale spit along my neck,
a pub-sawed man catch in the flurry
of my honey and web. Ahh.
Inhale. Watch the cherry crest
as I smoke out my pre-Wendy self
melonball all the parts of me
still stewing in amniotic scent
and leave me to gorge and gorge
what’s left: a marsh of tongues
I once believed would learn the art
of luring air into breeze
but now lie dormant, a wet chorus
ready to be released.
Mother Darling Visits the States
It’s not that the sky here isn’t blue
but that something has to asphyxiate to turn that hue.
I was so sure New England would fit like a skin.
That here in the glacier pucker of Boston
I would finally smooth the lumps
left by my children.
I thought God was going to loiter
around me like an armchair
speak to me in pinstripe écriture
engulf me in mohair. I thought a lot of things
if I abandoned London. But even the earth
has the weight of the sea to bear.
I know it’s silly to believe
New York City is some portal to the holy
that I might recognize Mary the way love
recognizes heat, that she would not blush
if I asked how it felt to know Jesus
had to leave.
Mother Darling Decorates the Christmas Tree
I always did have a thing for Kris Kringle.
Any man that can shimmy down a chimney
and still be jolly at the bottom
is certainly worthy in my mind.
Maybe that’s what happened to Wendy.
I keep looking to the sky,
but she could’ve gone down the pipes,
arrow set on city life – I know that kind of alive.
Lately though… not to digress
but Father Darling has been celibate
since the children left, and I’m not sure
where to bury all the energy
that used to swell our sex.
O this season of untucking,
of unwrapping, of folds and folds!
Let me rip through the crepe and uncover
Father Darling’s tongue a-slope my toes.
The tinsel a brittle glitter
in the background as our bodies
make smoke of the London snow.
How to make a magnet of the night
to beam my beacon bright
enough to catch my husband’s attention
or even my children? Sometimes I think
I’ll find a note. Like under this paper angel’s skirt,
Wendy will have written Roses: Carolina
or Seahorse Smatter on the Sigh of the Horizon,
or the boys will have slipped a hint in the wreath for Advent.
I can smell the Styrofoam of the angels
they made as children, the glitter and the glue,
and the bobble of the haloed heads
as Father Darling’s breath met my mine
in the evening’s residue.
Mother Darling Joins Mum-Meet-Up Online
Two minutes in: an admin claims
she’s one fifth Evangelist.
So I quit.
Belief is not a partial business.
I think that’s what I miss most about my kids.
They wanted to stampede Jesus.
Flock is such a soft word
for the fang stiff faith
of the tiny and zealous.
So why do the other mothers think I deserve this?
Is it because I refuse to share my sadness?
because I let willows bay
the window bouquet and mascara
still my cheek each Sunday?
I’d rather agonize to air. I need my grief
to hang star-maimed and gaseous
to drift along the light fixtures
to bubble the chandelier.
I so want to believe in this contingent of women –
to swallow them like bees
to gorge on their buzz / buck bilious
in the honey grip of their rhythm
but I already know they can’t save me
can’t capture Wendy, Michael, or John
so, I log out and let their voices lace in my wake
let their absence hole another
throat in the honeycomb I’ve built to shape
the parts of me words will never taste
each prism wax and roseate
as Wendy would be
pressed against dawn’s face.