A Visit To The Place Where She Lived

January 25, 2016

-- For Era Ann Elizabeth

 

I awakened coated with the feeling

of what it felt like to be afraid

of facing the fear named death. 

Now, I can’t stop myself from waking up at

night and wondering what death will be like?

 

Will it disappoint me the way my mother

dismays me every time I dream she lives

in an apartment on the other side of time.

She has lived there in that cluttered space—

the ceiling-reaching shelves host

four sets of plates as if

(she loved when Alicia Silverstone said,

“as if” in Clueless)

she’s entertaining more now since she died.

And here I’m nightly looking for her

and she’s using her recipes from

Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine to

wow paraclete companions.

 

Her neighbor has let me up the stairs and the

smells from other apartments as small as hers

disturb my courage. All these ended lives

living in this darkened building—this isn’t where

my mother was supposed to live when she died.

 

I’m not out of breath when I open the door

to the orange light lit space.  The welcoming

smell of her fried chicken—clean Crisco and light

Hungarian paprika—is absent from the body of odors

and what’s present is a smell that does not smell like a

place where my mother was supposed to live when

she died.  It is not a clean smell or hospitable odor.

Cleanliness is not next to clutter I think as I

see the stacks of bills and magazines. Readers Digest,

Prevention and Consumer Reports among them.

I leave without her ever coming out of her room,

or meeting any of her guests.

 

Other nights, my mother casually and

more normally ministers right from wrong to

me in an unsolicited maternal manner which

makes me believe she is alive and

has been hiding from me on the other side of time.

 

Doesn’t she know I’m not doing well since she’s

died and left me here on a planet that pleasantly

rejects me with each of its 365 opportunities?

She knows that I am daily betrayed by my

lusts and caged by lacking self-esteem and

confused by my creativity which flows more

since she left.  And I don’t know why?

 

Doesn’t she realize I’m all out of tears and

for each shed tear I’ve gained a new fear—

they’re mounting up on me forcing me

to travel at night towards a new place,

a place where talent and fear don’t

go hand in hand.  And I don’t feel

this is my home. 

 

Does she know, when I go too far from home,

I realize how alone I am,

now that she has died and left me just like

the time I was left on the front steps on

Lexington—I still see the car pull off and

the mean girls jeer as they put punches

strategically on my stomach, back and face.

 

Era Ann Elizabeth would say:

Stop all that foolishness! 

She would never attend my pity parties.
And that’s all it would take to snap me back.

 

Why are we closer in death than we were in life? 

 

Why are we so close to death?

Why does death dare have groupies

who call and write and writher their

way into your consciousness to let

you know—heh, heh, heh:

guess whose soul was recently

collected for habitation in a place

far away from here? 

You scared ain’t you?

You want your mutha, don’t you?

 

They found 2003 UB313—a tenth planet.  Is that

where my dead mother lives?

 

Starlight,

star bright,

first mother

I dream tonight:

I pray she’s mine

and I pray with might

she’s not living in that place

where my mother doesn’t belong.

 

Charlotte Morgan is a former Editor-in-Chief of this publication. She is a non-fiction writer who is presently completing a collection of essays.

 

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