Luminescent Motherhood

Olivia sleeps with the light on
dreaming of horses and ice skates
throws herself upside down
on bruised knees kicking  
arms locked around
this flat heart

I miss the nursing child
baby in the sling
gums on my chin
calling, Mama nuna
I thought when god gave
me a baby
she would stay
a baby

but she grows longer, longer, longer

when will she die
or leave me?
when will I die
or leave her?
have I left already?
would I feel such shyness
if I had had more children?
or if I had not
lost everything
including my
eyebrows and pubic hair?
or if my parents had
died happy deaths?

mother under serene white
lights hallow
nurse telling me to
rub her dry skin with lotion
feet peeling with disease
(for years) I could not bear to
touch or see her epidermis
waiting for my mother to die
too quickly in the ICU
asking for her other daughter

father broken head
big body no longer
wrapped but zipped and
carried off by stranger men--
after we so many hours, sung
Joel's rabid guitar
by the rivers of Babylon
where he sat down
and there he wept
how did the sun
do this?

do I cry out?
(what that spindly spider child
wove and dug
under my baby's skin
taking the prescient
precious red)

about my own cancer?
about such volumes of bluegrey bile?