I too have a holy mother, a woman
with grit and steeled arms
in which for decades she has cradled emptiness.
I see her on Fridays sitting in her chair,
where staff feed her professionally,
nurture her, delouse her, silently clean up
the filthy remnants of her thoughts.
We don’t talk, but I read in her eyes
how she wants to do it all once more: clear
my homework, hear my dreams spring up
like a boy’s bed, measure with pen and compass
the circumference of my life.
There comes the nurse with her daily pills
and my mother nods, sees her future
plans dissolve in a glass. ‘Bye,’ she says
and I go, my shame knows the way, for always
I remain a son who walks hand in hand
with her loss.
From Night and Navel (2017); translated by Paul Vincent