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BEING HER MOTHER


She fears it, except on bright mornings
when she strolls by auto shops, rewinding one song
by Ella or Dylan or the Violent Femmes--

she sees nothing reflected in windows
of her mother's Dutch gin-and-tonic temper,
back-of-the-throat sour:
former '70s cheerleader with long legs
under a pleated skirt,
the high school play's Maria, "The hills are alive!"--

then the widow lining white powder on mirrors,
sucking clay pipes, baby at hip, men at the door,
backgammon 'til dawn in the house
the dead husband built--

on bright mornings, she even forgives her mother,
understands the undertow of regret,
how it coils, clutches a foot, an ankle,
the whole damn leg.

  Jennifer McCoy

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