By Jane Desmond


Although you can pack her things away in boxes—
your mother’s tan teddy bear from the nursing home,
her 24-karat-gold false tooth, a miniature sculpture nestled 
on its cotton pillow in a tiny white box 
(Take this, she’d said, removing it at the end, 
it’s worth money)
even the shapely onyx urn with her ashes 

The past still seeps out the pores of the cardboard, 
percolates through the cellophane tape, crinkled and cracked 
with age, a silent flume of air unbound 
ever present, ever receding, 

-- your mother once laughing 
in that turquoise dress now wrapped 
in its tissue paper shroud, her auburn hair blowing 
in sandy, salted wind, blue sandals dangling from a finger
—there and not there-- 
even when the boxes stay the same, stacked and silent
in the garage like stocky sentinels 

blocking the way as you sidle by,
making yourself smaller to fit
the only space they’ve left for you.