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KINDERGARTEN PORTRAIT OF MY MOTHER AT MARDI GRAS

by
 She looks rather pathetic, really,
leaning against the black air,
the three mangled fingers of her left hand
clutching a yellow purse,
her right arm raised over her head
as if to shield herself
from the silver shower of stars
raining down upon her.
Her mouth is a crack growing beneath her nose.
Two dimples open like holes in her cheeks.
A pink ear dangles from her chin.
Looking at it now, it's clear.
But who could have possibly know then the dark shades of meaning lurking in the shadow of her face, the quiet relevance of the pearl necklace swimming around her neck, the orange birds drifting above her like question marks? Or that twenty years later it would all make sense- the way her eyes roll toward the sky, the way my father stands behind her in the crowd, arms waving in the wind, as if he's slowly drowning in the black sea of faces.

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