A letter to Charlie
Money. Even when I walk down Wilshire on Sunday
morning in the market district
I think of my mother, her neat hand picking
small oranges in a straw basket, running them in cold water,
attacking the skin in the kitchen,
leaning me up by the sink.
She use to say, Do what you have to do now. She did.
Back then she was a seamstress and a waitress
at the Duck Shack in Springfield,
Michigan when my childhood began. Where
she was, I never went. Her? When she turned 13,
someone took this picture:
she’s looking out the train
on the way to California,
the bruises on her shoulder
shook in shaky camera blur. The way she looks, all thin and hope,
she looks a lot like you, you know. Charlie,
don’t ask me for advice. I can’t tell you
what necessity means, what surviving took. As for love--
my mother says it jangles
in the summer like nervous
earrings in the sun,
at night it never sleeps.
From the hotel, I call Mom while the boyfriend
works the city bar below, afternoons, when it’s slow.
she sounds rested.