Nervous pacing worry head covered wishing for a ratty bathrobe brush curlers beer a cigarette a kerosene lamp and an EXIT sign a matter of timing a war between my car and me it’s personal it’s one more infested pigeon a conversation about death a leaking roof I plucked my eyebrows in the magnifying mirror I mashed potatoes I counted the coins in my coin jar $11 not including pennies the long screw and buttons then put the coins back in the jar too rattled to watch a movie or read my lion means there is a line separating you from me my lion means toes are tender my lion means no more doctors my lion means you think you’re close but you’re not my lion is punishing me for having a truly great Saturday whatever ails me that will also be a lie I am a retirement village in Florida that’s full of freak show castoffs here at dusk in my stupid sunglasses my highway patrol sunglasses a stinking hall welfare basement cathedral my lion stands still in declination I’ll find a body of water in which to carve an elliptical path my loksos ekleiptikos a Leo girl at a crosspoint worried the lines in my forehead deeping by day help oh help

Jesus and I talk about bees the light in the cherry tree against thunderheads white shoes and the thick genius of boys yesterday I saw massed thousands of tiny white jellyfish Medusas a bloom a smack of jellies benthic polyps I counted five large jellies with three foot long tentacles in the oily waters of the marina one with a bright red bell I kept my feet out of the water this time I did I did I am an eighty nine year old grandmother I am an eleven year old girl the day before her birthday my hands and wrists ache every night from practice from scales I fill the sink with steaming hot water curl my wrists in the water heat them cook them boil them boiled fishes sleeves pushed up my hair falling into the sink I wait there damp and burning until my hands and wrists loosen and stop aching like the red FORTUNE TELLER MIRACLE FISH that uncurl or curl or lift their heads or lie motionless in my palms predicting my hands’ future ability to lift and dig and love with their slight cellophane bodies the dead fish of miracles everything I write is supposed to carry weight or tragic import or insight but I glide through the tall grass on practice gut instinct and truth I allow myself that and the yellow and white polka dotted cup lights this room like candles and everything makes a difference everything I write changes me even the way I sit here a toad my hair uncombed naked and startled before the window I am red and peeled but my present road is weird and the racing form useless I won’t run out of books for a very long time the Animal Gods know me and it’s quiet west of Canal Street at the Zero House in impossible light

My countdown was a crack in the bee plate a thread pulled in my favorite skirt a film about indigents in a squalid theater a ratty monkey in a roadside circus the edge of mortality a warm irradiated halo a transparent celluloid image an Xray from hell a prescription written and slid across a marble table it was excellent to let air squeal out of the crimson balloon that rose in me I had to keep my brain from crossing its big cow eyes hiding but not delete my panic map an entire day poked prodded examined humiliated bent over whispering the nurse is in the other room I could dream myself in any other position bent at the waist knuckles dragging the sidewalk human hands gloves are you allergic to latex wormy tentacles long stroboscopic coils in the bushes smoke stacks cannonballs a fat punch of civilizations down to this moment stasis the ordinary sense of stillness a tiny gesture like wiping one’s mouth after a meal DO YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO BE HERE the hospital’s bowels bloodless tunnels a man in an orange knit cap in the seat next to me took out his teeth wanted to put them in my hand waited for a phone call from another physician Rebecca where are you I lost my glasses panicked cried flew my hair blown around my head all day doctors a junkie sweet chatter a foreign element introduced to the body just a touch be still now you won’t feel a thing I wonder how humans manage it without disintegrating

I wanted to put fuck in the flower moon but there isn’t enough time my eyeball won’t stop twitching and my Internet keeps cutting out nothing wrong with my computer nothing wrong with my modem it’s this house the outside falling inward an ill behaved cake I need more time to myself though I’m thankful for the heat the sun the insects traveling through my bloodstream the smell and sound of a classic car revving up fishermen lemonade red Popsicles that aren’t cherry but plastic flavored Aunt Beulah’s abandoned bathrobe flavored illegal fireworks that blow off my eyebrows and eyelashes and the sick after a cochineal red reminiscent of breath disoriented in the putrid underneath I’m wearing my short sky blue sleeveless dress from which I cut two feet of material then hemmed not realizing how distressingly gathered the waist was how much stretchy fabric through which to run my needle it’s going to be summer again today with thunderstorms I took a hot bath slathered myself in perfume then put on my blue twirly dress now all I need is time because my eyeball won’t stop twitching and my Internet keeps cutting out

In survival mode in the undertow swimming hard as I can yesterday I fought blackberry brambles until night when I plopped on my bed and concentrated on an oceanic breeze that startled its way through my window and cooled my legs this morning I had a bruised ass my Jawbone Of An Ass throbs like a raptor bite I can barely sit tears and snot again realizing how my childhood and adulthood heroes have always been fictional girls who survived impossible situations Dorothy Gale Alice Sara Crewe Violet Vivian

My mother is dying

Rebecca Loudon is the author of three collections of poetry. Her book Radish King was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Her most recent work appeared in The Tiny. Loudon lives on Camano Island in Washing where she works as a professional musician and teaches violin lessons to children.

The photograph is of Swedish artist Leif Holmstrand’s performance work.

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