Replace a mother with a sentence.
Write ahead. Hurry. The pencil can’t catch her
in a scratch of carbon. She’s erasing close behind.
A quick rub, a whisper rolled in pink whisker
across blue lines of graph paper going northsoutheast.
A line never ends its infinite points. Parallels never cross.
Her phrases crisscross like poetry. We suspend
understanding, can’t connect the dot to dot of syllables.
Can a thought be complete
Can a mother be complete
Mothermouthful comma missing question marks comma no reply
plied liberally in place till she surrenders
in a dab of white out
and is gone.
Hyphens and em dashes—
spaces widen like synaptic gaps
where electrons line up to leap
down a precipice like lemmings like lemmings.
The more I write the less she understands.
I wish I had walked her through the line breaks
knuckles white on her walker past tense past
blank stares. Held her safe between parentheses
like pillows where she might lay her head.
-Janet Norman Knox