A little girl I knew when she was my mother

A little girl I knew when she
was my mother

 

emerged from the pages of a bed

 

from sheets the colour of old snow

 

crawled from the petals of the Weeping Rose

 

from silks suffused with smoke

 

and sweat

 

dragged her wings from a chrysalis

 

slipped from the folds of the Virgin’s robes

 

uncurled her limbs

like an opening fist

ravelled

free of the winding cloths

 

felt for the floor

with the ball of her foot

 

 

found a swirling-patterned carpet

 

raised a hand to her sleep-stiff hair

 

breathed the ancient bedroom air.

 

There were black flags hanging from the houses

 

rags fluttering in the breeze.

 

*

 

Miles away, a dressing table.

Angels escort her ineffable steps

 

to rest on a piano stool,

all that is left of the instrument,

 

while under the seat, sheet music

hums to innocent childhood airs.

 

I see them floating in the triptych mirrors

the little girls I knew when they were my mothers.

 

They look down at their old hands,

jewelled rings screwed over knuckles.

 

There’s a woman trapped in the centre of their body

that no one can remember, as if in amber.

 

They look down at their old hands

and cry, petals falling from their eyes.

 

 

after Louise Bourgeois