by Bobbi Lurie

My mother's tongue still brings her pleasure

I watch her licking the ice cream from the cone

Stare into her profile smooth and distant as the moon

And when the ice cream drips down her chin

I pick up a napkin

Clench it in my fist


Every Monday my mother boiled cow's tongue

It would sit mute in the middle of the plate

In the middle of the table waiting

Its taste buds accusing us

I chewed the tongue with difficulty

Swallowed because I had to


My mother used to sigh in the kitchen

Sometimes crying sometimes telling me why

She could not love that other man

Whose face lay prized inside the photo album

She'd scrape the mustard-stained remains of cow's tongue

Into the trash


My mother used to say she'd rather die young

Have the image of her poreless skin

Pressed neat in the photo album

Her lithe figure framed in black

She believed other people would preserve her through their memories

Banish her from time as if...

I watch my mother

No longer beautiful or charming

Her left arm shaking

Her mind a gone thing no longer doing her wrong

Wandering away from me in the mall

To kiss the hands of strangers...


The people who would have remembered her

Are dead now themselves

What remains is the shape of the ice cream cone

The feel of its crusty texture

The taste of Rocky Road

The fleeting sweetness