In the middle of June, my mother fed
her wool turtlenecks into a charcoal suitcase.
She never packed her winter clothes
when she left.
I asked her who would help me cut the back of my hair?
She said my father would learn soon enough.
Darting out of our house,
throwing artificial light into the ink,
I knew she would drive until
her eyes blurred. She would pause
at a rest stop, reclining the driver’s seat.
Her head pillowed against glass, orange
lipstick smudged on her chin.
I stumble to the slow moving
river swelled by recent rainfall.
Water bugs skitter across the surface.
I wade in wearing my dress and sandals,
letting the water suck me down.
Like rubbing an ice cube
on a countertop, I swim on my back,
floating and watching swallows
dive into parabolas. She said I could always
find her if I listened. The water
Bull sharks swim in rivers. I imagine
the shark swooping beneath me,
shaking the surface like waves. I close
my eyes. I imagine her wrapped in a rough
brown hotel blanket. The teeth wrench my leg.
I thrash, and fight, thankful to have something
to do with my body.