Two Poems

Family Reunion

August heat, and now a parade:
The circus is in town!

but the ground’s eggshells and I

                  ride the elephant

crunch crunch
          her trunk

sways    grazes her thick
  awkward    legs   creates

an ill breeze which blows down the crowd-
          lined boulevard

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