she knew boarding houses
(photo of Rosemary Vincent, c. 19160
…it was my mother at fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen
who’d have years rubbing soapy sheets on scrubbing boards,
unpegging frozen sheets from clotheslines, draping them over table
and door to dry, of washing coal dust off walls and floors – long years
for a young girl to spend killing cockroaches, peeling turnips.
when she married, she’d seldom cook cabbage, that perfume
she’d tried so hard to wash from her hair and clothes.
our mother seldom read to us but told the story of cinderella
with feeling, her hands clutching air holding the mop
lost 13: he fell for her
survivor of the best stressed, and natural selection, she smiled her bold sexual ancient wisdom (satin-slippered men and bearded women sing in foreign languages.) rain in the west wind; whispery leaves flirt with bits of paper in the streetlights – the breweries the foundries the ice works the 7-Up bottling plant the airplane factory, the final notes that float like the perfume of someone you’d lusted after, the silences, gaps between what had been and what was to come. pissed as a parrot, excuse my French. hoodies? in trouble? you must be from mars. a windless moment, its straight lines of rain, the empty street. not that he’d admit it, wouldn’t admit a bulldog hanging off his leg. she’s mastered reality, no need to accommodate the uncomfortable bits. the stars always seemed closer than their bedroom anyway, this silken filigree his networked retirement fund
This should be interesting. Would I want my sisters or brother to write about me. There are my journals, of course. Totally damning. What fun!