The Last Time I Saw My Mother

Sharon Johnson

She was
fading to gauze
her pale blue frailty
into horizon.

She gnarled three fingers
around an old pencil stub
as if for the first time, pushed
unwilling bits of its ancient lead
into a small yellowed scrap: a map
so crude and cryptic, scrawled
by a hand that had taught
tiny metal crochet hooks
to sing cotton thread
into lace.

“Dig there,
behind the phlox,”
she said. “That’s where
I buried his heart.”

death had pooled
around her bird-like feet
preparing to crawl
past once-whistled-at knees,
between her alabaster thighs
where no one had been for
who can count the years
when he preferred us
and she let him.

Sharon Johnson is a creative director/writer and organizer of i-p-o-v creative, a collective of independent creative professionals who work in tandem and solo, primarily with nonprofit clients. Sharon writes short fiction and poetry, some of which has been published by Cactus Heart, Floating Bridge Review, and Gabby Journal. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Sharon lives in Chicago. You can connect with Sharon on Twitter @sharonipov.