I remember my mother.
Her mouth, the stern snake-slit.
Word after word she uttered made the dark room light.
Would make me fear light. I’d dream any other place

Than that bedroom where her head held to me my face.
Always she remembered herself as a daughter.
Always her hatred of her mother made me hate her.
But in the dark, through her laughter, I seemed to hear other cries

Other children scattered beneath storybook skies.
Or catching her blue bird’s caged creepy nighty-night
Song—how I wanted to strangle that throat.
So small, so foolish, most days I’d keep pace

Watching my mother’s hands knit seas of Queen Anne’s lace.
Striving in those seas to reach her, I had only the bitter
Bubble and break of each white flower. Nothing after,
Only my doll’s low, loony sighs,

My little room, little mirror, my wallpaper of goodbyes.
Yet always one moment, remember, Mother?
Though each night, enchanted light, I cursed you, no night,
No peace till, eyes closed, your ugly duckling kissed your face.

This Issue

September 26, 1968