Perfectly Breakable

Written by: Claire de la Grange

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.