At Seven Seas diner sits a mother, still
and pale as an ivory carving—white hair pulled
into a tiny topknot, eyes—soft gray, open wide,
barely blinking. Her face, breasts, belly, arms and legs
are round like The Venus of Willendorf.
Her daughter faces her with the same face,
but her hair is dark, flowing, her body lithe, long,
her eyes trained on her mother’s eyes,
as if gathering in the last of her.
The mother reaches for her purse.
“It’s okay, Mama. You took care of me all these years.
Now I can take care of you a little bit.”
The daughter keeps her eyes locked on her mother
who can no longer speak and her mother
who can no longer speak matches the gaze.
How can I tell you of the happiness
on the daughter’s face? On the mother’s?
Like candle glow from an inner flame.
The two of them in silence.
After a moment, long as an eon, they begin to hum low.
My ears that can hear grass grow make out
a lullaby about roses and lilies.
The waiter spills ice water into my lap.
Nothing breaks the spell.
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel, Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster) was nominated for the Ribelow Award and her novel, Kaylee’s Ghost was an Indie finalist. Her essays have been published in The New York Times (Lives), Newsweek, Empty Mirror, and many other publications. Her short stories and poetry have been published in Moment, The MacGuffin, Permafrost, Moment, and more. Her poetry has been nominated by Best of the Net and for a Pushcart Prize. Currently, she teaches at UCLA Extension. http://rochellejshapiro.com @rjshapiro