Skyping My Mother

By | 5 December 2019

Your fin-quick gaze
now swims into view, ex-convent eyes
long uncloistered:

a mother’s face is a lifetime
of faces, voluminously lined and luminous,
now distracted by this

real time letter. Each flourish
of your hand blurs its swish, the back
wash of bytes.

I’ve spent a life emerging
from my image of you, and now you’ve gone
amniotic. We were born

to each other, mother
and first child—our heartpumps that rhumba
when thrilled or exhausted,

lungs that seize in cold,
backs we throw out, lock us in bed for days.
In a failed poem, I once wrote

if the sky were a voice, it would
be yours
. The years rub it to a fluted rasp,
raspier over the audio

of compressed memory.
My daughters—reason for this spectral
reunion—crowd the screen,

invisible bits of you
coiled in them, their binary pool
of ancestral light.

When we watch your eyes,
we see you looking down to where we must be
looking on your screen,

a frame below the frame of us
looking down to you. As if a picture turns out
to be a window—

though we’re locked inside
our distant homes, and the window itself
is what’s raining.

Something in us
loves this earth, this flesh, but not enough
to cease our flailing

against its faithful
magnetic pull. Only a day’s drive away, too far
to feel this close.

you always read my mind, nerve networks
open as web pages.

Today, the headline—
“A mission to the moon with no return
in mind.” We’re digital

immigrants exiled
from taste of your breath, the hum your lungs
thrum when you’re happy

to see us, the bird
-quick movement of you in the room,
and the room in you.

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