Leaving the Body / Amy Alexander

I don’t know the man
who placed my first home in the
hundred-eye cabinet.
Home being my mother,
pungent with cancer,
and already taken apart
by degrees.
Long ago, she left her womb in a jar
at the dusty mountain hospital
in our one street town.
Knowing what I know, now,
she should have kept it,
the pear-shaped pocket of life
I crawled out of,
and not pulled out the specimen.
I was at a brazen age, then,
barely peeked into the room
where she slept,
keeper of my first home,
I wanted to ride the night car
all the way with another man
I didn’t know
to fill my own belly.
These are the things that haunt me
when I remember.
I should have cared for her body myself,
plastered her with perfumed cloth
I wove while waiting,
and not let some stranger
slide her into the morgue drawer,
but no,
always pre-occupied,
I didn’t pin down the moment,
I try to slow my breathing
so I’ll do the right thing,
every day,
be a good daughter,
even though her bones are calcite
shoveled into a hollow
at Grace St. Paul’s
and I’m the old mother



Amy Alexander is a writer, visual artist and homeschooling mother who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with her husband and two kids. Her work has appeared most recently in Anti-Heroin Chic, The Remembered Arts, Mojave Heart Review, and Mooky Chick. Follow her on Twitter @iriemom.