My Mother’s House


In my mother’s house,
there will be no pictures of my father,
save the ones who managed to escaped her scissors
and jump into my shoe boxes,
but his ashes will be there.
In my mother’s house
there will always be a fresh bouquet
of flowers
next to his urn and a bag of peanut M&M’s in the pantry.
There will always be the feeling
of my septum being rung out like a rag. There will be purple
nail polish
under the bathroom sink
and rice in the kitchen.
Save my niece,
There will never be children again in my mother’s house.
Secrets will live in my mother’s house.
My sister will not.

In my mother’s house, molars
will always clench
and an old dog who never grew up,
but grew big, will jump
on your lap.
There will be hair dye and prescriptions.
There will be,
as there always has been,
order.
There will be a place for everything.
And a critique for everyone.
Especially for my sister. A special place for my sister.
There will be old report cards
and never opened bottles of liquor
for company.
There will be no company.
In my mother’s house, there will be
instant microwaveable food
because now there is no company.
There will be an espresso pot
on the stove
and a can of Bustelo
in case there ever is company.
There will be fault
but no one to blame.

Salt will be in my mother’s house,
water will not.
My useless diploma will be there
hanging in a far too expensive frame in the room where my
father died.
That will always be the place for uselessness.
The room where my father died,
and my diploma hangs,
and—for now—my niece sleeps,
is the place for uselessness.
That is the room where clown figurines
are tucked away in a closet along
with my old toys.
There will be pineapple printed
table mats, and pineapple
printed curtains, and
pineapple printed kitchen rugs
in my mother’s house.
There will be pineapple scented candles.
Sometimes there will be
a small can of pineapple chunks in sugary syrup.
There will only be a small can,
because my sister won’t be in my mother’s house.

There will not be marijuana,
or even cigarettes in my mother’s house.
There will be at least six plastic packaged comforters
and matching pillow cases. There will only be two
beds. There will only be her,
and my niece for now, in my mother’s house.
There will never be two women in my mother’s house.
There will be far too many Christmas decorations
stored away in bins and there
will be one bin for Easter and
one bin for Halloween.
There will be no time or want to
open these bins again.
My mother’s house will have three bottles
of liquid soap.
There will be bonding denture cream
and always a different brand of conditioner
in her house.
My niece will not grow to be
my sister in my mother’s house.
She will not grow to be my mother’s
daughter in that house.
There will be no second
chance in my mother’s house.
There never was.
Ask my father.
He will always be dead
in an urn
next to the flowers
in my mother’s house.
The smell of his thin paper bag skin
will always be in the room with the clown figurines,
and my useless diploma,
and my niece, for now,
who will never be my sister,
who will never be in my mother’s house,
in my mother’s house.

His ashes will not be spread at sea
or buried out back with that big
old dog living in the yard of my mother’s house
to be pissed on.
There are rules. There is order.
It will always be this way in my mother’s house.
Bottles in the refrigerator will face forward.
The decorative pillows on the good couch
will be moved
if company ever arrives at my mother’s house.
The decorative pillows
on the good couch will never be moved.
That is their place in my mother’s house.
My sister will always have a place in my mother’s house.

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