September 22, 2013

Giovanna Capone

MY MOTHER

You were always the loud, strong-willed one
ruling us like a high-strung captain
our ship flung
headlong through a tempest.
You were the flaming sun
around which we orbited
your sparks flew
in radiant hues.
I always knew your fire
could warm me
or singe.

Even now, at 75
so much hinges
on your gray-headed ultimatums
your words flying freely
Your love
filling the house.
Your round face
and dark brown eyes
could always
inspire fear or pride
in your children.

When I was little
you often dressed
in black
to go out.
Standing before the mirror
you plucked stray hairs from your chin
with silver tweezers
powdered your nose and cheeks,
applied dark red lipstick
tossing it all
in a big black pocketbook
that hung from the doorknob
of your room.

I didn’t know
if I wanted to be like you
or fall in love with you.
You were

Elizabeth Taylor
in a hot black dress
nylons
sparking as you walked.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003
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