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I can round my jaw enough to pop
my chewing gum without blowing
a bubble. It reminds me of my mother’s
knuckle-bone. The way it would snap out
then retract throughout the day.

I used to sink into the passenger seat,
stare at her grip - hand to steering wheel,
how the bone beneath her skin would jet
back and forth as if exercising its power
in preparation for something heavy.

At home, when she fastened gloves
around fingers, scrubbed the bath-tub
of its scum, I imagined her knuckle-bone
rubbing raw against the squeak of protection,
listened for bare skin sliding against rubber

as she peeled back gloves then broke
her hands free. That’s how I knew
it was loose, swooping down like a bird's
hardened claw, ready to connect bone to bone.