Asking About My Mother

In the small kitchen, the hog’s head weaves
the gamey scent of death throughout the house.
My grandmother scrapes black hair
from the hog’s pink head with the
sharp blade of her butcher knife. I ask
her about my mother;
I always ask her about my mother. I play
paper dolls under a Formica table with
pearls around my neck & pink lipstick
from my mother’s treasure chest.
My grandmother places the head into the tub & i watch
her hands, wait for her to tell me where my mother’s gone.
My grandmother fills the tub with water.
I hate that she always reminds me of all she’s done for
love. Remember. Remember. Hair. Face. Knife.
She lifts the heavy tub & situates the hog upon
the stove covering all the burners & turns on all the eyes

Copyright © 2022 by Crystal Wilkinson. From Perfect Black (University Press of Kentucky Press, 2021). Used with the permission of the poet.