to my mother, Marlene

I on the floor
with all that hair dad
refused to see cut
(and when I did, he said
he'd lost his baby girl)
in front of you
you in the rocking chair where
you'd groan to have
your grown daughter
still yearn to sit in your lap

your mouth, full of bobby pins
your mouth, soft with age
arthritic fingers twirl about my head
Bobby pins, like bobbie socks I'd thought,
like that photo of you, black and white
in cat eye glasses and black hair like mine
is now
you and I, mother, in pin curls

in the morning I'd pull
whatever didn't come loose in sleep
and dance like Shirley Temple
to see my hair take form

my mother, with her hair white
pale dimples in forearms
where steel plates were inserted
and she stayed in a coma for two weeks
from a bad, bad wreck
maybe before I was born, maybe after

(Oh god, and that re-enactment on TV
of the wreck you were in
you breathed and sobbed like a stranger,
and I ran to the back room
screaming, Where is my mom? You're not my mom.)

I sit on the floor, mom, sometimes
and try to make the pin curls like you
but I can't

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