Mother didn’t trust her body,
didn’t trust mine. A woman
has to give and give, she said,
until you’re spent like socks.
She folded the laundry—father’s
large white underwear. My brother’s
baseball pants. The body is service.
She held up the shirts. The creases.
The body is quick to fall. Mother didn’t
see right, looked right through to bone
or glazed the men like pies, the brush
dipped in egg to shine like gold. Mother
made her bed with hospital corners, learned
to swim when she was 45. Mother couldn’t
ride a bike. I taught her to along a dirt path
on Isle Au Haut, I coached her to keep
pedaling until the motion becomes like
flight. How? she asked, freezing up,
the wheels grinding pine roots, their slippery
needles, the roaring waves. You have to trust
your body. You have to trust physics.
Meghan Sterling (she, her, hers) lives in Maine. Her work is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Rhino Poetry, Nelle, Poetrty South, and many others. These Few Seeds (Terrapin Books, 2021) was a Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Finalist. Self-Portrait with Ghosts of the Diaspora (Harbor Editions), Comfort the Mourners (Everybody Press) and View from a Borrowed Field (Lily Poetry Review’s Paul Nemser Book Prize) are all forthcoming in 2023.