WHAT REMAINS

Lois Marie Harrod

In your refrigerator two lemons shrink hard as moqui marbles 

and like your mother’s bitter breasts, retain their shape.

 

You wash them gently now that she can no longer wash herself,

your mother, that little woman with a thin neck and long waist.

 

What she keeps and what she loses, see her even now tuck in her gut,

flex those buttocks so they don’t become wrinkled sheets.

 

How she tried to shrink you into prayer, you with your hard fruit.

So sometimes you imagine a forgiving hand on your back,

 

perhaps hers, perhaps your own, soft and yielding, 

miming it’s all right, live, even a peach has a heart of stone.

 

And don’t worry.  You will not be one of those ruins 

difficult to climb over or circumnavigate. No Ozymandias, you.

 

Yet there’s so little soft left when you smooth her bed. 

You wonder if your children will feel the same when you leave.

Lois Marie Harrod’s 17th collection, Woman, is forthcoming from Blue Lyra in February 2020. Recent works include Nightmares of the Minor Poet (Five Oaks Press 2016),  And She Took the Heart  (Casa de Cinco Hermanas 2016) and Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press 2013). A Dodge poet, she is published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches a literature course at Princeton’s Evergreen Forum and Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey.