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