remembering mother

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.

~  Mary Oliver

She rides on a cycle like the wind, legs astride, skirt ballooning like wings. Kitchen smoke folds into her skin, mixes with slivers of lemon she dips into the jar of water. The yard carries her smell in the braids of mint runners that spread around her feet.

She picks the guava, ripe and soft in her hands, richly fragrant on the sleeves of her blouse that she has fashioned with gathers of laces that flit like dream in my sleep after she disengages her fingers from mine and withdraws into the dark night.

Her face closes like a moonless sky, a veil of cloud graying her sad eyes as they rest on me, her thoughts like the currents of a river spiral in eddies of anxiety. Rubies on her ears pulsate like the throat of songster when she gathers me and breathes a deep sigh.

After all these years I can smell her out in the bazaar, jasmine coiled on her dark tresses, plaited into a band of memory that weighs and tugs my heart. She looks at me tenderly across the milling crowd; she is wearing silk, bolts of colors spread like arcs of happiness.

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