Mourning Mother, Greek Exhibit
In this dark room of ruins,
I want to take your stony face
in my hands. The boy you made
is gone. Silent as these statues
and as still, you’re at home
among the shards and symbols,
casting spells on those who abandoned
him. You cannot accept that we betray
the dead. All the large and little lies.
Excuses the living make not to crawl
into the grave beside them. Mothers
are fastened to suffering but everyone
else tells us to move on as if grief
were the narrow path in Delphi
that leads to the Pythia. Your face
is Jocasta’s the moment before
she screamed, too brutal for a mask.
They’re wrong; you will not heal.
You’ll only endure from now on—
your boy’s words perpetual kaddish
on your lips.
What We Have
Our minds that plague and comfort us
with truth. The way neither of us will forget
how it felt for surgeons’ scars to turn white
as bone. Last summer, all autumn. Winter
waiting for each other. Night already too dark
to reveal blossoms—pink and white—hovering
above. Talk of time, aware of what might have been
always with what is. Our one day together—
what we wrote to each other before and after. We are
the littered circus ground after the tents are pulled
and packed, all the animals pressed into cages. Our dry
bodies brittle, as if just days before they did not boast
abandon. As if you were not the thin clairvoyant clown.
As if I were not the trapeze dancer, flamboyant and fooled.
Jennifer Franklin (AB Brown, MFA Columbia) is the author of two full-length collections, Looming (Elixir, 2015) and No Small Gift (Four Way Books, 2018). Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, Boston Review, Connotation Press, Gettysburg Review, Paris Review, “poem-a-day” on poets.org, and Prairie Schooner. She is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. She teaches poetry workshops and seminars at The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, where she serves as Program Director. She lives in New York City.