Somewhere, the syrup of my mother drips
into a bed guarded by a nurse I’ve never seen.
Six years old and basting in the steam of chickenpox,
I marinate inside an oatmeal bath, carve
a message on construction paper
that my father drops off at the rehab center.
Sleep is a knife that splits my body
into tiny cubes.
My mother stirs in the lonely center
of her room. Oven of her sheets
turned to 400 degrees, she pours
her sandwich bag of herbs into a pot,
adds two gritty-critically-acclaimed documentaries from Netflix,
three People magazines.
The batter smells of glazed
eyes, half-dreams truncated
by brightness from the TV screen,
breathless feel of falling past a brink.
My mother grew as a plump tomato
on a vine but has since been pulverized
into a sauce, the process gentler than you’d think.
The heat of melting like the onset of a dream:
the body liquifies and then becomes the air,
evaporates instead of dies.
I am a gutted animal that roasts
beneath my comforter, heat of tossing
in my own grease. My body swallows
space it did not know was there, soaks
like a spill into my sheets. Once I baked
inside my mother for a year,
boiled safely in the water of her womb,
and even after that I poured myself
into her frame: she was a bowl
that gave me shape.
Mom are you the steam that rises
somewhere nobody can reach
or is it me looking to escape.
Mom will I drift as vapor
from your warm container
or simmer into you.
Mom even though I’m over here
I’m also curled within your belly,
recalling how my body slept
before it grew.