The Invisible Mother

Nancy Miller Gomez

The mother-shape draped in dark cloth

takes on the properties of a chair, a curtain,

a cloak. She becomes a living field of fabric,

a blank screen. An erasure. Lint gathers

in her eyes and the corners of her mouth.

She is the rustling in the room,

the empty place where dust gathers.

Her heart is made of cobwebs, her words

glued to the roof of her mouth. No one sees her

chin quivering like a small bird. She has folded

her sorrows into napkins placed at a table

set for her children. They feast until nothing is left

but her absence. Her fingers tap out time,

measuring seconds. She is a forgotten thought,

a lamp, a stage, a station of the cross. She bears it

silently, this weight, her babies, propped across

her motionless body. She wears the finery

of their bones to mask her naked face.

She is counterbalance, stanchion, a breathing

pillar of brocade. The space where she begins

and ends debated endlessly in velvet.

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