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To My Mother, After the Stroke

Julia Moore

Your granddaughter drew a picture of the clot
that traveled from thigh to brain.
She made your blood the Mighty Mississippi,
the freezing pipeline that softened
into trudging muddy waters
in a place unthinkably far away.

And, pushing upriver, the clot was a barge
that grew wider and wider
and heavier and warmer
until it got stuck
in the sludge of the river silt.

Even if beautiful, your walk is stooped.
A dropped necklace, your left side sags.
The clatter of candy against teeth, your right side a smile.

Do you sense the quiver of your hanging arm,
shoulders lopsided like a falling wave?

We are alone, I ask if you recall
the morning drives to town
when, squinting into the sun,
you held my squirming hand.

Being alone doesn’t help,
you still don’t answer.
Your lips only stretch and flatten
like a baby gurgling bath water.

Out on car rides, we watch things pass.
Flaking barns, a clumsy church, trout ponds,
the drooping sun, heavy as a garnet,
a dog lolling in a dried-up creek bed.

I tuck my hand into your curled fingers
and stretch my eyes wide to see at dusk.
You are slumped against the door.