Mother wakes at five thirty in the morning
even Sundays, though the newspaper hasn't been delivered
to me sitting at the top of the stairs.
She squints at me with Hitchcock eyes,
says that my bathwater is turning light gray, it's time to get in.
Sundays, we go to church, which isn't-just-a-social-thing-young-lady.
I'm here because I would neverever ask for anything else
if she bought me a dog.
It dawns, and her voice percolates my future, drip
drip drip, we say Scholarship.
I have a hard time knowing her
without her glasses
and her makeup in its technicolor glory.
She drives me to school every day, to save on parking.
Trucks and equinoxes blow past us as I stare out the window,
drawing pictures in the condensation with my thumb.
She says did you know that Beethoven
never saw the sea? Later we should go to the beach,
she'll show me a picture of a furtive flute of a girl
in a poodleskirt and a yellow-spattered room.
We can walk up and down the sand together
but it makes us uncomfortable to look at the sea
so we'll give up and squint against the brine.
Of course, we don't have time this afternoon
but we will soon.
Evening, mother wears an apron made of iron
and cooks like a woman who's angry at pans.
Her eyes flicker towards the ceiling
which is covered in white paint and invisible pancakes.
Sometimes we argue and I say
the only thing stopping her from slitting her wrists
is fear that the paramedics would notice kitchen floors had
waxy yellow buildup.
She screams do I think that's funny.
I say that I do.
At night when I'm not sleeping
ironing board is folded up in the closet like Tutankhamun
she is lying still with her hair spread over the pillow like a book
glasses off, caps shut.
She's going to wake at five thirty in the morning
before the newspaper, to see me sitting on this stairwell,
and she will blink,
and I will live on that contact
until tomorrow morning.