LISA SCHAPIRO FLYNN
My father steps out towards the Atlantic:
small asthmatic, blonde and blue-eyed, snap-thin.
His mother in her skirted suit can’t swim,
scissors after him, pulls him back before he can feel
the cold shock of anything.
My mother’s mother escapes Hitler to be widowed,
spend her final decades in my parents’ guest bedroom.
Her chapped finger shows me the broken points
of exposed bedspring coils. Can you fix this?
I probably can. I probably don’t. I don’t remember.
My mother and father make a deal,
as he bloats and purples, to skip the doctor.
Their terrier licks his heels as they carry him from the bed.
When yellow stuffing blooms from her blue couch,
my mother stashes his ashes in her closet.
With each sip of coffee I persist in drinking
at my table that’s never clean, a fist of pain.
I stare down at my cup, as if at tea leaves…
My baby keens: ma ma ma ma ma.
The sound is far from the oversized mug
I wrap in my fingers, lift to my lips.