Tayve Neese

Under Ground, Over the Aquifer

During her hospitalization, my mother recognizes me, says—

the wide arms of the trees have lost their scope,
and what were visions fade like chalk drawings.

Today, the flapping in my right ear is quiet
and I heard a woman in the kitchen

talking about sweet green pears
while a spider in the doorway,

without me, wove its home in silk.

Today, the faucet is not the mouth of God—
it is water, and no matter how much I drink

it will not make me holy.

No, today the light coming through the window is pure,
like when I was a girl and came upon a dead egret

in a gutter and realized it would never lift, sing.

Yes, it’s a day like that, and it is a little sad,
really, that the arms of the trees are not laden with pears,

that the spider has no need of my spinners,

and the white bird in my mind,
who being so lovingly beckoned,

will not rise to the sun

as the wind from its slow flapping
turns into holy water over my shoulder.

Spending decades,

denying my likeness—
sidestepping her schizophrenia—

like her lips, cheeks,
I have inherited her need of stillness,

for long cups of coffee while watching
the incline of light shift across the yard,

for tankas, uncluttered, and orchids,
singular, unthorned.

Although, she preferred a sky
with either no clouds, bright,

or one saturated in gray,
I need the clutter of cumulus—

their slow patterns passing,
shapes in need of constant deciphering.

Because my daughters are growing.

grief has stained and doubled my limbs.
Each daughter I enfold in arms

sees my blurred eyes as multi-faceted.
Oh, spider-mother, they tease.

Oh, spider-mother, they sing
all their days over their sweeping,

their small games with shells.
And I lament more as their legs

grow tall and thick, their hips
spread like a terrible web

in which a small life will stick,
struggle like an angry fly.

The one I loved, despised, bury her by the leper
or suicide, but let her hair stay unwoven.

Above her the fox whelps its litter, noon-owls
drop notes of stone. Under ground,

over the aquifer, she is alone
giving skin, bone to trunk and limb

where egrets build stick homes. Silent,
she still seeks out the nest,

its pulse of shell, new tongues,
gives milk to roots, feeds the young.