the unpainted statue of the young girl
on the side altar
made the quality of mercy seem scrupulous and calm.
When my mother was in a hospital drying out,
or drinking at a pace that would put her there soon,
I would slip in the side door,
light an aromatic candle,
and bargain for us both.
Or else I’d stare into the day-moon of that face
and, if I concentrated, fly.
Come down! come down!
she’d call, because I was so high.
Though mostly when I think of myself
at that age, I am standing at my older brother’s closet
studying the shirts,
convinced that I could be absolutely transformed
by something I could borrow.
And the days churned by,
from Sun Under Wood (1998)