In the Tea Colored Light

my mother painted exuberance
her last weeks, watercolors that leaped
off the page, fingers sticky with gold dust
and glitter she sifted
onto still wet paintings.

On the December day she died,
we remarked on the porcelain sheen of her  skin,
on the prism that stroked the face of her leaving.

Outside, the day hung like a cocoon,
autumn's heady extravagance faded
to memory, the trees having withdrawn their faces.
In the stillness, they appeared as monks at prayer,
blank-faced, inscrutable.

—Mary Jo Balistreri, Waukesha, WI