In the morning she slept late until I came
to bring her tea in bed, a napkin, a plate
with toast and cheese. Slurred she’d say, So soon?
and raise her body—stolid, languorous whale—
from the sea of dreams it had been swimming in.
Small waves, her purple curls licked and lapped
the shore of her forehead. She looked pale.
I held her sweaty palm and kissed her hair,
which smelled of soap, food and saccharine.
She’d feed me her bread, then absently bring
the teacup to her lips. It took me years
to realize that the pearls beside the bed,
inside a glass, were all the teeth she had.
—Published in Red River Review, May ’17