Half-Elegy for My Mother’s Voice

By Sara Borjas
December 5th, 2014

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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.