Years ago, my mother told me
if I wear makeup to bed
when death comes knocking,
I’ll be ready for the date.
I phone her. No answer.
Outside my window, the last
of yellow butter dahlia we planted
I drive to her house
against wind whirring its lament.
The grey of day rubs
pencil lead across the sky.
On the road, a window display
of stiff mannequins posing
through a bare canvas stare,
vacant-eyed, in little black dresses.
A sudden longing for café con leche
made with large dollops of milk and sugar,
her color, warm. My need right now.
Hands shaking, I open the door.
Silence smothers me.
I begin to bargain with the universe,
I can be a better daughter.
Her face is loose and make-up free,
unadorned, fixed in a final blank.
She was wrong. So wrong.
A fist catches in my throat.