Glosa for My Deteriorating Mother
by Haro Lee
I don’t ask you to love me always like this,
but I ask you to remember.
Somewhere inside me
there’ll always be the person I am tonight
–Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Your hair, it’s summoned by moonlight now–
One day I noticed
how your middle parting beamed
at me. A silver embroidery. The first unwrapping
of fish cartilage by nature’s teeth.
It was so easy to dismiss
it then. After you painted your roots
we both went back to normal,
that new tapestry allowing us to miss
the warning: I don’t ask you to love me always like this.
That was a long time ago. The first
season that produced white foliage,
it returned. The tufts that grew
you painted over like swans
dipping themselves in night’s lake, emerging
black again. Your timber
weakened. The strands grew thin, breaking
off, the charcoal of it turning brown, burnt sienna,
then a sick jaundice. You’d grab a tender
bunch of it. Understand. But I ask you to remember
when being young mattered to you.
When you were always there,
always for me, you on a silver platter,
the crop of your head
a waterfall that always ran black.
Black vines, black veins, black sea,
rich of dark matter.
The memories of a younger you
burn something beastly,
something molten, somewhere inside me,
yearning. But your hair now,
you catch seasons with it.
Your head is a winter lake, flash frozen by age.
And you know how much I want
to break the ice, search for something bleak. Maybe you,
twenty years younger, a crown of night
growing from your head.
A younger you,
promising, against time’s flight:
There will always be the person I am tonight.
Haro Lee lives in South Korea with her grandmother. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Zone 3 Press, The Offing, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. She was also the recipient of Epiphany Magazine’s Breakout 8 Writers Prize. You can find her @pilnyeosdaughter.