My Mother in Menopause

Her skin seeps like soup.
It’s not a perfect Revlon match,
Oils jumping toward the waiter
For a glass of water and the entrée
Hasn’t even arrived to save her.
Do you remember your mum’s
First sweat at fifty, like a tablecloth
Was being ripped from her shoulders
And she could not scream,
And she was stiller than a smoking
Chimney? The secret between
Mothers and daughters is that
We are the same in too many ways,
No matter how much we avoid
The photo album or the wedding dress
Reeking of gouda and rice crackers.
Her chest cracks into sand
Like the fossils between her toes,
This St. John vacation a disaster,
An anniversary, a belated birthday,
A blood funeral, even though
I am bleeding, I have not swam,
I am hiding from my father after
Bloodying an airline seat.
So we sit, snatch bread rolls,
Laugh with Captain Dan at dinner who lost
His arm in a fishing accident
And had a pirate hook surgically
Implanted. My mother
Fans herself in cold
Blood, my blood, burning
Into a visible bomb or worse—
Her mother the ballet dancer
Leaping across the stage
On her period. Like a proud parent
At graduation, I stare into
Her wet eyes until there is
No shame, until everyone bleeding or dry
Is alive, like a massacre of paper
Horses we cut ourselves.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash