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
dragged her wings from a chrysalis
slipped from the folds of the Virgin’s robes
uncurled her limbs
like an opening fist
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