You’ve lost your soul again. Go back
to the window. Note the crocus
in the bed your mother hunkers over,
missing you, in her fashion,
now that you’re always there.
Why don’t you wear your uniform, she asks.
Will you ever get out of bed,
running her hand through your uncombed curls,
sweating eau de toilette
that forces you both to remember
the hollows she cannot scent.
Several soldiers’ buttons
glitter in her trowel, a spectacular find
that conjures and erases
the sad, stained trench
in which their bodies vanished.
Your mother gives a cry of surprise.
The child she bore
bears you no resemblance; only
this habit of losing your soul
suggests yours is the head
she brushed, in a perfumed cloud,
straightening what wasn’t tangled,
as something rolled across the floor,
where she would never find it.
Many surrenders later,
what glittered and rolled
perforated by equidistant holes
while you froze in her haze of fragrance
has surfaced among the spears of crocus,
as though the boys who burst their buttons
jabbing dummies with bayonets
had risen from their graves,
ready to forgive.
From The Future Is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joy Ladin. Used with the permission of the author.