Photograph of Mother
Your childhood yard
is an explosion of rust and weeds
backed by clapboard and peeling paint.
Poverty acid - - - dropped the landscape:

ragged chickens, desire
hung to dry, the men
drinking and picking fights,
the women worn right through.

Let's not get dramatic.
You still had tea parties in the garden
with paper dolls made from pictures of models
you'd snipped from Sears catalogues.

In your thinning dress,
squinting at the world
beyond your yard,
you willed better, saw the earth's

betrayal, all your ancestors tilling
to empty, digging up nothing
but grief. You would choose
subways and concrete,

teach kids to read, make paper money,
buy every packaged item
in the gleam
of the grocery store.

--- From All the Gold Hurts My Mouth
Katherine Leyton
©2016 Icehouse/Goose Lane
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