February 1, 2016

LILLIAN

LILLIAN

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by Lisa Kusel

 
Memories, like Jell-O, shake,
fall off the Spanish chandelier
all she left me, my father’s mother,
once she died.
it hangs there from the ceiling
in our bathroom, ceramic flowers
pink and blue and yellow like a child’s toy
giving light with open arms

spraying light and then
she is stooped under it
gnarled painful back, humped
spreading tuna salad
on rye toast
heaping canned fruit bits, cherries
redder than an oil painting,
squares of pineapple so perfect
a geometry teacher would marry them
on my plate and I wipe

treacly juice
from my small mouth
pounce
from the table
catch
my elfin reflection
in that lucid bough hanging
over her table alive with possibilities
I could not perceive

before I escaped to
             my Florida friends
             Marco
             Polo
             Marco
             Polo

before I could scurry from
dry cold old-smelling air into
a humid embrace like a mink stole
saddling sunburned shoulders
she kisses my freckled cheeks, in her hands
like a vise tightening waiting sides
leaving me lipstick smudged,
plastic smelling Hollywood Red, Uptown Red, Marilyn Red
Radiant Red, Royal Red, Ravishing Red, Really Red, Truly Red,
Russian Red, West End Red, Silent Red,
Burnt Red, Flame Red, Hot Red,
Red Licorice, Red Ribbon, Red Devil, Red Fox,
No Question Red, Deep Cut Red, Riot Red
Fatal Red, Midnight Red, Velvet Red, Drop Dead Red
Classic Red rubbed off with thumb and spit. Cleaning

a hanging light is treacherous.
So many reflections lie beneath the dust.
In the breeze they make no sound.

 


Lisa Kusel is the author of Hat Trick (Hyperion) and Other Fish in the Sea: Stories (Hyperion). Her poems and essays have appeared in Zuzu’s Petals and Parent Co. Magazine, as well as in the tea-stained journal on her nightstand. She occasionally blogs at On Monkey Forest Road

Image: “Red, Red Lips”, by Christine Roth