My Mother's Afternoon Nap

by Donald Britton

Donald BrittonAutumn

The table, lamp, and chair
strain against the ordinary light
that props up the window
spilling needles on the carpet,
shade recomposing on the sill.

Mother wraps her fear into a towel
and shrinks upon her bed,
denying to the potent afternoon
the touch of quick emotions.
The engines of the house are still.

The stillness is a bullet in her brain.
Upon the stake the ivy curls
like infant Jesus bloody on the grass.
The countertops are polished bright
and blue-veined as the mirrors.

Clouds stroke the sky into autumn
while Mother sleeps and hates
the life that hurt her into sleep—
bound to one so much not herself,
she is his body's inarticulate host.

She feels the pillow crease her cheek,
uncertain in the ache of waking.
No gloss of love dispels
the image of those angels she attends,
bow-tied detectives who take her away.

Last updated September 27, 2022