Leveler Poetry Journal
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Gypsy Mom


Words upturn since you asked me,

What color eyes do you wear?

Which birthday kissed first?


The first skin

mousseline, seven

layers of magnolia scarves

scarred to bud.

I bench-pressed years to inherit you.

Now I press rain

stones to your eyes and ask

Are you mad?

After silk-spinning, what of death?


Eighteen years gone, half

my life since your life

and still I grope at combustible things,

tucking them like dead pears

in my pea coat pocket.


Mammograms sweat the trunk,

pearls hustle my throat.


Even the school children in the ring

pine for your Grace Kelly swerve.

Candy! Candy! you want them to cry

but just the plum riddle of the flagpole,

like your stories, dumb and normal

with their stubborn plow of baby’s breath.


I radio dirty runaways

until the hot tapestries

of the star’s foliage

unfold the potato garden of stones

where you strut, blighted with mayonnaise,

skinny as the morning.


Pay me to the moon,

gypsy rough.

Strap me to the groins of camels

so I can join your caravan of corn nuts

and wave my flag of country and chamomile.


I’ll send one postcard:


            Dear Mom,


            I floated above Mosquito

            Island’s coral reef wearing

            your wetsuit. It was beautiful,

            the fish ludicrously fat and bright.

Ellen Elder