Gazing At You, Winona Palmer, My Mother
Shrunken face: brown, refined and small.
by Lamont Palmer
Who reduced you to this diminutive size?
When did you become fragility's core?
You scare me. My days tremble like a cold leaf.
I wish there was more of you again.
When I hold you, please do not fold like a paper doll.
Photos on the TV demonstrate grief, crossed with
the hours of the young and hours of lean hands.
I look at you as you are in the uncertain present:
the years are criminal, larcenous. They steal so much;
the years hate flesh, hate the beauty of skin,
but the heart is human, it must add so much,
it must increase day to day subtraction.
It is a math of survival. The hours of numbers.
So I add. And I add.
I put your former face before my eyes, unwittingly,
every time there is sun in this final house.
Should I glory in your weakened eyes,
because they are still here and still watchful?
Should I yearn for the mother of the grainy photos?
the one who carried the fullness of a boy
in her arms, like there was no weight to him?
Direction is like a man who is drunk,
stumbling from town to town, from mind to mind,
from platitude to platitude over kitchen tables.
I rest in beauty because of the years
and beyond the years; years that terrorize
knowledge that is dormant but clear.
In the faces which sometimes make us regret,
comes the shape of beauty, of a trinket
destined to live, in spite of a quiet albatross.
Mother, we are the magicians of our later lives,
practicing the magic of old and new eyes,
jostling days like tentative circus acts.