Mother buried hacked-up carp beneath
pink rose mallow. She knew the filthy cats
would come. A balled-up dirty rag
and coffee tin of smelly kerosene
were garrisoned behind a red berry twistwood.
Mother would hide in a column of shadow
near the porch. Ambush the cats as they dug
for carp. Their noses spiced with fish-oiled peat.
Tails flagged above puckered targets.
Mother was quick with her kerosene rag — spot on!
A hush-hush tripwire stretched taut round
the perimeter of mother’s mortared desperation.
The sacrosanct, lint-free, perfect world, where
she demanded God wipe His feet at her door.
Dear Mother, our Elizabeth Taylor dead ringer,
who could waltz with kings, or gut them with a glare.
Ghetto mother, who would murder to keep
her suburbs white, the cat crap gone, and
her prize mallow big as Frisbees. I couldn’t
let it storm on mother. She would get crazy
if her galvanized tin-roof mind was rattled.
Her daughter always had to shine. I kept
the attic window shutters well oiled. Mother
never heard my bare feet crisscrossing
the roof, as I ran to catch the rain.