Fake pearls dangle over my unclasped breasts, so real
they hang above my waist. From time to time,
I clutch them. Mornings, I grasp for the feeling
of being touched: thumb strumming my ribcage,
fingertips smoothing my hairline. I can barely grasp
the concept of time—light given off by a cold star.
I feel naked without a watch. My father gambled
his gold watch away. I too have flung my body until,
bruised, it learned to fall. Pearl was my great-grandmother’s
name. She forbade my mother from playing cards.
The difference between a gambler and a dreamer is time.
Wanda Coleman ends “Dream 924” with the line
i did not wake up today. A line that sends the reader back
to the beginning. The tenderest touch I’ve felt
was in a dream. I couldn’t prevent my mother
from being bruised, her eye like the raccoon’s
who jostles the garbage can at night. The distance
between me and my father is frictionless, the opposite
of how a pearl comes to be. We are silver-lipped
and clammed up. An ocean, dressed in sky’s iridescence,
drifts glacially between us. I can be cold sometimes.
I’ve walked away from a lover, chest on fire, and plunged
my fists into buckets of ice. Better the burning be
mine: a flickering imitation of flame. The chill of the freezer
blew a small wind on my mother’s face. She iced her lip
and smoothed strands of her hair into place.
Twice she left my father; once she went back.
Mother-of-pearl is the name for what a pearl is made of.