Old Glory

My mother has always been
proud of her flat stomach.
Lately she complains of bloating,
dutifully ingests laxatives
prescribed in powder form.
She brews the cure with tea,
talking to the Lipton man
because no one else will listen.

Her chin sprouts wiry hairs,
legs left behind by some strange insect
crawling through her.
On the kitchen table
amber drugstore tubes
line up like organ pipes,
play a dirge of daily doses.

She still speaks with
a valedictorian’s voice.
Her lidded eyes shoot out
the same sparks
that singed my father
during the war,
dancing to Glenn Miller in the dorm,
unaware of
battles and bugs.

(published in Dust&Fire 2004)

Ashes to Ashes

Morphine clouded her last days.
She bloated, lost her hair
refused to discuss an obituary
had a co-worker with a boat
agree to scatter her ashes
on Lake Superior. I wear

the pewter barrette she gave me.
It may be in my hair when
I die, melt in the heat,
fuse with gold crowns, silver fillings
form a marble-size lump
in grainy gray ash. My son

as instructed, climbs the Brule
fire tower, tosses me downwind.
He keeps the metal ball, welds it
to the backyard sculpture
cast by his friend who walked
into water at Munising
and never came out.

The sun filters through trees
behind his house
glints off bronze waves
surrounds me with sparks.

(published in Rat’s Ass Review, 2017)