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September 2015, vol 11 no 3

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Bill Gottlieb


for Mom, dead 43 years today

For the last year or two you were too weak to stand behind the puppet theatre and hold Willie, hold up the brown-haired, green-eyed boy – the coloring of his cloth head like mine, like yours, whose lustrous hair I inherited, and rosy fairness, and an eye for fun, and frank laughter, and the words of your stories – Willie, who went to the moon and fell in love with the princess who lives on the dark side. You died with a tracheotomy tube in you, a tube about as wide as those tubes you thrust your two hands into, animating the queen and the dog and the king and the prince and his snippy sisters – animating everyone, everything, smile constant as a wide slice of red cloth below a nub of nose under kindly eyes encouraging as a happy ending; yours wasn't, blood spun in the machine three times a week, kidneys like Judy, Punch. Willie was a boy as sweet and sad as a son standing by a bedside, a boy saying goodbye to the woman who made him.

green features fingered
by filaments of mold . . .
that witch in my closet