August heat, and now a parade:
The circus is in town!
but the ground’s eggshells and I
ride the elephant
sways grazes her thick
awkward legs creates
an ill breeze which blows down the crowd-
Excuse us Excuse us please I’m saying
Excuse us I say from way under a pink parasol of
flimsy tissue and the crowd
throws tomatoes all
summer No more
parasol the tissue
disintegrates by August’s end
when rains finally cease and the sun
beats down my
unshaded head in a halo its heat
Sorry Sorry I say: sorry I say
a parade of blue, orange, magenta blotches
blinding my tired eyes as I slide
off the beast I ride
all summer in this
parade and under this parade eggshells—
crunch crunch crunch
Inventory II My Mother’s Owls
Most have no value,
not even sentimental.
Long before she died, my mother
lined them up as she lined up
her grandchildren, instructing each child
to choose two or three as keepsakes:
stuffed owls, pottery owls, glass owls,
not hand-blown but from Woolworth’s,
owl charms, owl pins. She had been
a hard person to buy for—
Just be nice to me all day, she’d say,
her difficult-to-fill order for every birthday until
she finally freed us, started a collection
when she was well into middle-age. Owl earrings
owl pillows: Throw them all away—
the order when she finally was made to see
her lymphoma was not, indeed, some
minor blood disorder from which
she would recover. For God sakes,
they’re just things.
This maybe two weeks before
the memorial service, not even her ashes
given to us to inter for two years,
her body donated to a medical school.
You are such a pack-rat she’d say to me.
One day, I swear, you will be on one of those t.v. shows
digging your way out of your own house.
Fifteen years since and I still hear her,
her owls in two boxes in my basement.
I save what I can save.
—Liz Abrams-Morley, Philadelphia, PA