Some days it looks like a dog
others, it’s a lioness. The weighty
long-tailed bronze sculpture

standing on its four feet,
anchored by a six-inch tail
that narrows, tapers to a point

How many years did I watch
my mother sit at our yellow
Formica kitchen table, slit open

the telephone bill, Publishers’
Warehouse ads, receipts from
NC Mutual Life, the light bill?

She’d give them a hasty glance
before she shifted the pages
to stacks or the wastebasket

Mail from family or friends she’d
open first, settle in to read hometown
news, who did what, who’d died

Through years and moves around
and across the county, I knew
the letter opener as part of her.

Enough so, when we divided
her belongings, I claimed
this bit of Mama as my own.