Prélude

By Laura Epling

I knew my mother was onto something when she took off her gloves
one at a time
to let her palms sink in.
Nectar compost dripped from her wrists as she brought the seed
to her lips and called it, ‘delicious.’ Through the irises
I approached, unacquainted and indisposed and wondering
why she was.  She was, I suppose, enraptured in the sort of hope that simply lets go.
I sensed it by the glow in her rib cage expanding
while she interred the embryo miscarried and called it,
‘beginning.’
We knelt together, palms sinking
into the garden pad-altar – I, mourning the shell who knew heaven and
the hell-soil before breathing in the valley air.

I learned patience, there.
But the catch with the damned virtue is that it aggravates the waiting, as discontentment turns to
expecting, which moves one forward with a lecture to stand still. So my young bones ached
beside even younger pistils, molting and stretching to grow twice as deep as tall in an algebraic
series of rise and squared fall. Yet with each limb extended I felt a grave flaw in vertical
measurement. Adulthood kept a record of it and called it, ‘success.’
Now I recognize the monster under my bed—that nocturnal beast watching me in my rest,
dangling bacon over my head at the first sign of a dream. He attached the stick at the nape of my
neck so that all I do is run into things and chase a distraction at the end.
Is all of my striving to this end?
I knew my mother was onto something when she took off her shoes
one at a time
to let her toes sink in.
Broken compost covered her skin as she dug farther in and called it, ‘freedom.’ Through the
irises I stirred, my life restless and concerned and wondering why hers wasn’t.  Her life wasn’t,
I have learned, a circular search for the meaning of it.

She was sinking in,
twice as deep,
and meaning it.