my mother is sick & can not leave her bed most days.
i am of my mother & therefore i am sick too.
i am of my mother & so i race to find a cure for us.
i leave that house & walk away from the dim lit faces
of the mumbling televisions. my mother is sick & therefore i am sick too
i tell the woman i sleep with. i leave that house
spanish moss hangs from a tree growing in brooklyn
& it’s a terminal thing i share with my mother.
you are so much like her my father shakes his head
side to side in a bar, i always feared you would be
& paige, that way  he says, after telling him the prognosis.
i ate my hands to keep from touching myself.
i gave my things away, only to come back to bed surrounded
by the things i’d given away.  you haven’t been right
for some time my friend says, while she
dips her hands between my thighs— thinking maccabee,
thinking oil, —& other miracles in the wrong language.
my mother is sick & i am of her & therefore i am sick
too, i say.  what surrounds us are not ghosts but one another.
if i could claw my eyes out to keep from seeing
i would, but i ate my hands & talons
just last week, in an attempt to cure this thing—
would you be a dear & take them from me?
you would still be able to feel the gravity of the earth
my friend says. you’d still feel the moon tugging the oceans.
i know, i know, but i’ve got to try something i say.
if i could get milkweed or what ever you want
to grow from the holes in my face, if i’d been better
at folding paper cranes, pronouncing dubious words
in their native french, at least one of us
would  have had a chance to leave here with something
we wanted.

Keegan Lester is the poetry editor and co-founder of the journal Souvenir. His work is published in or forthcoming from: The Journal, Sun Dog Lit, Cutbank, Sixth Finch, The Adroit and Powder Keg among others, and has been featured at Coldfront, The New School MFA Writing Blog and NPR. He spends most of his time either in Brooklyn, NY or in West Virginia. He earned his MFA from Columbia University. You can follow him on Instagram @kml2157 or on Twitter @keeganmlester.