the thumbprints of my dead.
They come away clean and bloodless
when there is no pulse.
On days when grief is a wall
I bump into over and over
unable to perform even basic
tasks like mashing the strained potatoes
or pegging out the laundry in a high wind
I’ll press thumbprints of the departed
into the soap, the butter.
Coat them in oil and press them
against clean windows and tv screens.
Also bathroom mirrors, to be revealed
when I shower. Evidence that my darlings
were pinpricks of annoyance that I loved.
She cares for her mother
which are crumpled as a left-sided stroke.
Mother’s tongue is a seam ripper and unpicks
the daughter’s character and flaws.
Daughter takes up the hem of mother’s
forgetfulness and remembers her
healthy as a patchwork quilt
tones blended elegantly as an equation.
One day the sums don’t add up
colours grow rancid, measurements askew.
The last few quilt-blocks of mother lay unfinished
with edges raw and frayed so daughter tidies them away.
Mother strikes again like a needle puncture
and draws blood. Daughter puts a bit of thread
under her tongue and then rolls the tiny damp ball
of cotton over the droplets until they disappear.