I remember when her father died, how
she talked about him, but I can’t recall
who took care of us while she took care of
him, four of us hungry children, and all
saw her the center of the universe –
both Miss America and God to us,
prettiest and the best. Gold hairs on her
arms were our only icons, calling us
to worship, introducing knee-weak love
and desire so deep the touch now is fire
and the loss magnificent, how she wouldn’t
smoke in front of her father; our highest
priestess and starlet fell dowdy, silent,
when with that emphysematous tyrant.
In pictures her face is vague and pretty
as if she had already begun death
and no penetration of our gaze sees
inside the grave of her heart she couldn’t let
rise. Her prize recipe was angel food cake,
so Mother believed that’s why she was sent
to heaven. It was a lie to placate
her at twelve so she would forever tend
house too fiercely to know how they misused her.
I would try so hard to erase her pain
yet couldn’t forgive her for our tight tethers
Only later could I know why she reined
us in so tight. We cushioned her fears of grief
like a watchdog imprisoned with the Thief
Hello Mother, up in heaven, how are
you doing today? any interstellar bad
news or disputes for you to collect? how far
have you gone with the rules? did you and dad
meet up yet or does he have to wait a space
before he gets in your good graces again?
You were so small on earth, there I hope you’re apace
with your nature, wild and free as back when
you rebelled against your father’s tyranny.
I remember mostly patience with me
except that time you slapped me when I said
yes, I lied, but a mite too defiantly.
I wish we could start over with me the mommy.
I would love you better infinitely!
Barbara Schweitzer is the author of 33 1/3: Soap Opera Sonnets. Recent work is published in The Decadent Review, Crosswinds, The Woven Tale Press, Slab 17, The Evening Street Review, Glimpse.