If not restoring the cat’s order,
if not coffee for two,
who am I,
what do I desire?
Walking alone on the beach,
Claire wants to etymologize—
but she’s got mere seconds
to coin the languor
of minnows rising in swells
before people, cars, and umbrellas.
She doesn’t want to die yet.
How does one decide?
Claire would like to, but cannot
own a dog, nor any large contraption
that would save her from the sun.
a fish too, aims for food—
Swims to it!
For twenty-five years there had been clothes to find,
shoes to tie, homework—a ferris wheel
of cars bombing Claire’s mind,
alone in the shower or driving the car—
Mom. Mom. Mom.
“The time, it flits away,” said the elders,
blessing her children in stores—
And Claire did understand.
She was there, had fattened them
with her milk, was there for
the first steps, the fevers, the fractures,
contests and matches, her armadillo
wagon scouring the county
for the thousand details, her mind
inside the smudged lines of every
good matriarchal story she heard.
She was there,
secretly howling—O how is it done.
And savored some. Yet her body
she ignored. Had to—
And then she was ill, and stayed, ill.
Stayed upstairs, to heal.
Then one day, after the last child’s morning clatter,
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the back door slammed. Under her quilt,
Claire’s blood began to itch.
She swallowed her life
as the sun cast its avenue
on the yellow floor—then slipped from bed,
and crawled, her palms like savants,
groping down the hall toward
a fizzing light. There, she clambered
up the sink cabinet, the way
of a spider, so to implore,
in the bifurcated mirror, her face.
Carla Carson is the author of the chapbook LOVE AND ORANGES, Finishing Line Press, 2015. Some of her poems have been published by Prelude, PANK, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Mom Egg, Columbia Review, and more. She is a member of the faculty at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College where she teaches reading and writing poetry. As well, she is the secretary of the board of directors for Four Way Books, Tribeca, NY.