Not Complete Enough

How my Mother’s embroidered apron unfolds in my life
—Arshile Gorky

As I put out my cigarette tonight in bed
    I thought of my mother,
      how she would lie

                                    in the dark
      her bed and as a boy I wd

      the open and see the red spot in her hands.

      I thought of my mother tonight
                 when I put out my cigarette 
         in the dark bed,
           stomping it out

                                    and her in
             how I would open the door at night
             and see the red thing in her hands,
                 and now a man
                 I have the red thing
                   and it is the last thing
                 I do.  
                          The last thought that
                   the house is clean,
                    was her thought mine 
             tonight in her home,
                         red thought
             the two of us in the dark, 
                                           thoughts of the day,
                 the clock right, the window open,

                             how many lunches made,
                                                            my life so apart

      And yet in her hands.

        How I lie in her hand
               and her head turns
        its circle, over the day
                             in my head.

         Tonight after midnight
             my mother and the gesture
             I make with my last
             cigarette her gesture,
             how I wd help her upstairs

         when she got drunk on holidays

            in terror help her

            and always she’d ask for the
            last cigarette and fall asleep
            with it and I wd handle
                          the details,

            two pillows, window open, and the door
                          a crack so we could hear
                            her if she fell out
                                         of bed.

                    And she did and another cigarette
         with her gray hair knotted on the pillow
                                 when I lit it    


From Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners, edited by Joshua Beckman, CAConrad, and Robert Dewhurst © 2015 John Wieners Literary Trust, Raymond Foye, Administrator. Reprinted with the permission of The John Wieners Literary Trust.