One day, I paint my mother’s face
with rocks – pound Dolostone,
Basalt, Quartzite into powder,
dribble spit into what I crush,
rub paint onto her nose, cheeks,
forehead – every streak one finger
wide. My mother: remade. Wild,
glossed with magic. I take a picture,
try to fix her as warrior companion.
I wave the polaroid like a smoke
blessing, wait for it to dry.
When I look up, she’s gone.
Later, I find her in her sewing room –
face washed off, her foot on the pedal
of her machine as though she is driving
our brown Oldsmobile to the milk store.
The windows are open. Streetlights
buzz. It’s Indian Summer.
Heat blurs the trees
into smudged still lives.
My mother stuffs elastic
into a waistband, sends me to bed.
I lean out my window like a dog.
Bats reel. Rabid. Lucky. I squirm
all night, searching for the cool part
of my cotton sheets, those places
my body has not yet been.

Cindy Hunter Morgan teaches creative writing at Michigan State University. Her full-length manuscript of poems informed by Great Lakes shipwrecks is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press. She also is the author of two chapbooks. The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker won The Ledge Press 2011 Poetry Chapbook Competition. Apple Season won the Midwest Writing Center's 2012 Chapbook Contest, judged by Shane McCrae. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including West Branch, Salamander, and Sugar House Review.