My mother wore a thimble made of copper.
My mother was a seamstress or a chamber-maid,
or market-girl or nurse or cotton picker,
or a washerwoman, fingers blistered red
from strangling sheets in lime and washtub water.
She disappeared through linen on the line
and like a mocking bird, I heard her laughter –
a teaspoon on good china, lady-fine.
My mother was a photograph. Her name
was Longing or Desire. She stumbled south
along the Parish Road, barefoot and shamed
in dirty lace, gin bottle to her mouth.
My mother was a hand in a long white glove,
the moment before the glove was pulled off –