Half-Elegy for My Mother's Voice My mother goes everywhere scavenging jewelry from clearance cases, the glass counters at Mervyn’s, at Gottschalks, freckled arms pointing, fingers sliding over the diamond back of a tennis bracelet.
Seven years old staring down the faux pearls, tracing my mother’s name and mine —smudges on glass.
I feel my hands slipping from the case, from stones, from my father, from our name, from everything. Even now, my mother’s voice, bargaining follows me like a ghost and I cannot keep those hands from sealing my heart.
Nothing opens it. Not the flip of a leaf in sun, not my father rocking in his chair like a broken stem in wind, not the man stroking my body in words. Sometimes, the ghost in the mirror asks me about love.
I fasten earrings. I clasp bracelets and the possibility returns to me for the second it takes to notice a tiny stone, a glint, an elegy for a marriage, before I turn off the light and it slides back into its case, thick and familiar. Just like my mother, I am always dressing a ghost.