I fill my mother with air from the gas station
pump, four quarters strong.
I wash her back in gasoline and oil, curl
her hair over bolts with a wrench
the way she wore an old shower cap tucked
over pink rollers and a bathrobe to school
when a boy tried to kiss me on the playground.
She made sure to walk me to the front steps,
cold cream and all, with the bell ringing
and that boy waiting just to say,
my daughter will look like me when she’s old.
I stand at the sink and rouge, pluck strays that
beg at my chin, color the greys
that have tinseled and still she says,
propped in the backseat, keep living, girl.
There is still room in the tank.