Rachel Mortiz


(In childhood, shuffling between a caught space)

Your Nana was ironing, starching the sheets
     in her Lemon Joy Kitchen

Wings without body, white sheet snagged on the lip
     of her board. Was she a bird?

'I can smell the rubbers in the front entry as I sat on the hall-tree seat
     and hunted for my galoshes,' she wrote, remembering

how one object from childhood locates--

You were drinking milk from her blue Delft teacup
     By slice of window you kept lifting up her teacup and leaving
     a rim on blue flowers. Little moths or butterflies,
     waves parting


'A sudden brightness of the white tablecloth on the big round table
     in the dining room.'

tea + cup (deft granddaughter makes the thing in her mind)

but the wave of nostalgia is borrowed. You remember sleeping
     beneath a moss green scroll whose scholarly characters continued,
     three bent backs on a footbridge in the Taoist garden

'Click of the rug guards on the stairs as I tip-toe down'

And something caught in the rim of your throat because her shadow
     stretched and retracted. Sprinklers sprayed by the firefly cemetery
     and her pointed brown pumps set themselves down

Cracks intersecting--


(Also, about memory placed spatially, as if a screen)

Lost in the scroll, like vision, is her breath beneath a rose-colored
     comforter when you peek in the bedroom. Her narrow bed
     with polished cherry headboard. But mostly, that Nana breathes
     with her shut eyes, body still, contracted

'and the shine on Mother's circular china closet'

One night, the motorcyclist hits their meridian. After a terrible
     screech, neighbors pile on the sidewalk. You remember
     the blast of after-rain steam against your nightgown,
     which inside the condominium, beneath a moss scroll,
     has been very cool in the hum

Someone pounds their front door and wakes

In the morning, his boot sits lip
     up beneath her Oldsmobile

She opens the car door slowly as
     if connecting dots

     Triangle :

Boot: Body


The color of the boot is washed ochre

--a monkey cup plant awaiting dinner--
Pollination trapped inside a throat

Back there, you bent over the plant

The tongue of his boot arches here
Over carport


(Ideas about scaffolding and foreground)

The window bars straight down, their iron parallel

You were visiting America, where the guest room
     window attached to your dream

Someone seared the bars and reached--

Your head was by wall and your feet by window. Outside, a steel mobile
     glinted even at night in the carport. Cars made streaks against the walls,
     carrying themselves on green where three bent backs were crossing
     the footbridge. Three panes of fabric from a dark wooden rod

In art, another country continued inside
     time, people stopped on a planked bridge with swallows

Dusk losing edges

She keeps coming in to speak you to sleep. Sleep tight. Sleep tight. Repeat
     three times for each bar on the window

The scholars go on playing cards

Over there, remembering bamboo bent
     around the buildings

Sleep, tight


(Opening the door, a little wildness in the lip of her galoshes)