My eighty-year-old mother says no, no, I think they just are.
She doesn’t remember names, what was. Roots sunk deep,
she just is. I dream of gardens: boxwood labyrinths
where I might lose myself. Some place where
the planted surpasses the planned. Untended
blossoms become brambles. Brambly thicket,
her mind. I clean her brush and pocket the nest
of white hair. I’ve become a smuggler,
traveling a same route, bringing back home
what will sustain me, when she’s gone.
Trade pity for rapture. Cat’s eye for a solid. Gather
marbles; wrap up the game. Fly cross-country
then back. Do it again and again. A gain, a loss.
Poor us. Poor me. Pour into me. Porosity. Sieve
to catch the past before it disappears.
Charlotte Milholland Friedman
Charlotte Milholland Friedman is a poet, memoirist, and nonfiction author of The Girl Pages (Hyperion, 2019). She teaches Narrative Medicine at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her poetry has been published in Connecticut River Review, Intima, Unearthed, Waterwheel Review and elsewhere. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.