You knew the end was near. You saw it in your mother’s lipstick exploding
like a bullet in her hand, her mouth so terrified it shaped a wound. The sky
was not a sky that year because it didn’t rise—it slumped on the horizon like a limp
body unashamed of being blue and nude. Even the rooster laid its voice to rest.
It tore the rusty hinges of its feet and tipped forward on the roof like a damaged
weather vane. And now that you occupy the indentation on her bed and the strange
shadow that only the sick leave behind, the room remembers your dead mother
by the one pink slipper pointing to the other as if to accuse it of having been the first
to abandon the cold bones of the toes. If you could shake this room in your hands it would threaten you like a broken Thermos crying out in pieces of glass.
Did she walk to the window, banish the stars? Sit on the chair to melt with the candle? Did she lie down on the pool of spilled water on the floor to swim across?
When you finally decide how your mother made her exit, you know something about loss and something about the architecture of death. You will reconstruct it
every time you breathe until it is flawed and familiar. How else can you learn how to die, if not by example? This is the painful knowledge in the world:
our mothers depart like their mothers before them. Sometimes. Sometimes we depart like our mothers. When the day arrives that you surpass your mother’s age
at the time of her demise, everything you touch will make you tremble like a new-born unaccustomed to the elements in light. Now take your index finger.
Relearn the mysteries of contact. Make every discovery again and live your second life. Your mother’s name is the first good word uttered from the grave.
Let your hand trace you back to language. Now speak. Now write. Create.