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And Painted the Floor
written by: Kindra M. Austin
In the kitchen
my mother was dead with no religion;
she’d bumped her head and painted the floor—
dead head red
Mother were your eyes closed or open?
Only the cat knows
as well as policemen.
Bloated bag of bones
drained and taking space in chest of drawers...
you don’t belong there but what can I do?
I’ve never been good at saving you.
In line for the oven that will
don’t fret mother;
your girls won’t toss the dirt on you.
Instead we’ll wear your body
dressed in silver
displayed ‘round our necks.
No one can hurt you now.
Not your mother or your father.
Not corrupt Jehovah—
cruel lesson maker.
Mama 19 again at 24;
You were imperfect but you were ours,
and you were magnificent even at your ugliest.
Because we knew you loved us
so fucking hard, and it hurt sometimes.
You were a glorious lioness.
A goddamned alcoholic, but a lioness nonetheless.
And I’m so angry!
My mother is dead. And it doesn’t matter if her eyes were closed or open.
Those eyes I’ll never see again.
Those most beautiful eyes that beheld me the day I was born.
Those eyes I’ve learned to read.
The ones I’ve loved and hated in equal turns—
sometimes green grey or blue
but always told her truth.
The ones made dull when she bumped her head
and painted the floor.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
This poem is an excerpt from my collection of poems and prose, Constant Muses.