Gather Your Daughter

My mother sat in the shadowing
  light of a lamp, eyes closed,
cheek bones that are my bones
  in relief, the single sinuous line
of her nose— I have loved her more
  in dementia than I have ever known
how to love her before—
  her night has been my truth
these many years
  yet finally I am no longer afraid
to caress her forehead, as if she were my daughter now.
  Mark this truth: I am her, my mother
who has scattered fear
  like shattered bone in the tall
grasses of our hair, in the imagined
  grave we must fall into.
Edythe, Edythe, your daughter is here.
  My mother’s eyes flickered.
I love you she said.
  There was the dream
she said come to me
   I will be leaving soon.
How can we harness love
  to find its measure?
Would one one-hundredth of a teaspoon
  tender the heart?
When will I know I have loved my mother
  enough to say I love you,
and the gesture, enough for her
   to believe.

Alicia Elkort’s poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press. Alicia’s poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.