Poem – Mother And Daughter – Anne Sextom 

Linda, you are leaving 

your old body now, 

It lies flat, an old butterfly, 

all arm, all leg, all wing, 

loose as an old dress. 

I reach out toward it but 

my fingers turn to cankers 

and I am motherwarm and used, 

just as your childhood is used. 

Question you about this 

and you hold up pearls. 

Question you about this 

and you pass by armies. 

Question you about this – 

you with your big clock going, 

its hands wider than jackstraws – 

and you’ll sew up a continent. 

Now that you are eighteen 

I give you my booty, my spoils, 

my Mother & Co. and my ailments. 

Question you about this 

and you’ll not know the answer – 

the muzzle at the oxygen, 

the tubes, the pathways, 

the war and the war’s vomit. 

Keep on, keep on, keep on, 

carrying keepsakes to the boys, 

carrying powders to the boys, 

carrying, my Linda, blood to 

the bloodletter. 

Linda, you are leaving 

your old body now. 

You’ve picked my pocket clean 

and you’ve racked up all my 

poker chips and left me empty 

and, as the river between us 

narrows, you do calisthenics, 

that womanly leggy semaphore. 

Question you about this 

and you will sew me a shroud 

and hold up Monday’s broiler 

and thumb out the chicken gut. 

Question you about this 

and you will see my death 

drooling at these gray lips 

while you, my burglar, will eat 

fruit and pass the time of day.

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