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On days you can’t remember

On days you can’t remember who she was,
you disinter the pictures (you don’t want to!),
then focus on benign peripheries,
so that the first contritenesses that haunt you

will show themselves banal: ‘whatever happened
to that armoire?’ ‘That dishwasher broke down.’
‘I miss the velvet couch.’ ‘I wish we hadn’t
let the thistle overrun the lawn.’

Entice your vision toward more pointed hints:
Salute the crib, the changing table. Welcome
a glimpse of diaper bag. Recall its scents
of disinfectant, sour milk, and talcum.

You deftly sidestep ‘what’s she thinking here?’
and ‘does she know it’s me behind the camera?’–
yet trip on ‘why such tangles in her hair?’
and ‘did we never change from our pajamas?’

Retreat beneath the quilt her grandma made.
Review the popup book, rewind the mobile.
Respin the top, recoil within the bed.
Renurse, resing, resigh, relaugh, rebabble.

And, should you need to, build a sturdy house
of quatrain stacked on quatrain. Window-free
at last, live lyrically, your mind diffuse–
all squinting rhymes and harmless frippery.

Go, dear one. Pile words one upon another.
Form thick iambic castles, if you wish.
You have the right, love—you who were her mother—
to veil what life remains in artifice.

hannah

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