Damn. I knew I should have vacuumed.
My mother always vacuumed
Despite five kids who always had five friends,
A couple of dogs, cats, and my dad’s work boots.
My mother was ahead of her time or in denial or
chose escapism or was simply drunk. I don’t care. She played
with us kids on her clean floors, finally clean floors. She had a house
with clean floors.
While she laid on her back
she would place her narrow feet on my hip bones
our fingertips touching – ground eagle, sky eagle –
wingspan to wingspan, “Fly, Suzy, fly!”
I soared beyond her rages and whipping yardsticks.
The grass on the middle lawn was thick like golf courses,
a carpet most plush by the brick fireplace
never mortared never made permanent
the snakes nested there.
Mumma and I sat there and the snakes would come.
“This is how you hold them” her hand steady and direct
her voice unwavering. We would take turns holding the snakes,
look them in the eyes and not be afraid
of their wild beauty.