My Mother’s Bedjacket
Its color soothed me. It might have been called,
if not quite rightly, rosy.
Nothing has matched it since I was small.
The fabric must have been something like velvet.
It felt more than merely soft.
Since those days, in fact, I’ve touched nothing like it.
The pillow she used in unsettling darkness
as she lay by her gentle husband
shared the smell of that supple garment.
Was its fragrance artificial or rather
the scent of a lovely young woman
before years and liquor conspired to take her?
It seems I still ache for that old aroma.
It hasn’t been replicated,
will never be. How did I climb over
the four-poster’s rails, or did she lift me?
I hope she lifted me.
I’ve resolved the sorrowful rage that eddied
between us two for too long a time.
I forgive her: after all,
I had a part in every storm.
With a coarsened will, for decades– well after
that father died and left me
broken– I fought to turn my mother
back to what she could be no more.
I cursed her stomach-churning
breath as I hauled her up from the floor,
as I tried to scream away her roughness,
to shout her red face back to pink:
all futile, given her whiskey-deafness.
But still this longing, however faint,
to climb and lay me down
near that nameless hue and odor and scent.
by Sydney Lea from from What Shines (Four Way Books 2023)