-- 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?
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.