2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

The First Her

It’s always dusk or dawn
in my memory. When I open my eyes,
she smiles or I see laughter in the house
though I know those days were heavy
with labor. She does laundry
in the kitchen while she cooks me eggs.
I will always eat my vegetables for her.
She always moves across this
dimly lit room. If I watch her longer,
the sun must go down. It gets
very dark for days, dark for years.
I can hear her hum, though I never
remembered her humming.
I am so small and hate to have
my hair brushed. She is every
thing that connects me
to this earth. She gives me
folded clothes to put away: my rainbow
t-shirt sparkling glitter in my hands.
Her long straight hair is perfect,
a hippie part down the middle,
always pulled back in a loose ponytail.
I remember plants in the window sills,
long green and yellow leaves.
I don’t remember how
she cared for them.
She cleans other
people’s houses, burns
her hands on the chemicals.
I will climb her ladders,
I will hold her razor blades
on my fingertips. No one
will notice these scars until I show them.

First published in East Jasmine Review.


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