It’s not her fault
who she became to me.
It’s the paper mâché of memory
the way we slap another wet piece
over the last, the heavier pieces
showing through to the end
like the one where she grabbed
my hair, wrestled me to the ground

I built her up early on
layer by starchy layer
chain-smoking, V-browed
discontent and it’s hard
to change direction after a bad start
this sculpture, this mother,
to Madonna.

And now, as if the tip of her blue sleeve
poked through trampled earth like a flower
the song comes, “Shall We Dance?”
she, singing her happiness
pure, the color of ancient sky
before my thousand troops
marched her under before unskilled hands
pressed a false figure

I want to pull that bit of sleeve
unearth what I’ve covered
I want the whole blue dress
with its fleur de lis pattern the joy
of brass buttons down the back

I want to carefully pick around her truth
like an archeologist
pull up the bones
of her happiness, mold her anew
let her teach me to waltz.

A graduate of the University of Colorado, Liz Collins currently makes her living as a fine artist. Involved with serious writing groups for twenty-some years, she now concentrates on her writing, her first love. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of poetry.