North for my tenth summer.
Auntie positions my brush: Look
with the eye, sketch what you see.
You’re too thin, she fusses and fries
Moon Over Miami, its ochre yolks ascendant
in a sky of red bologna & seared toast.
My chewed nails, she overlooks,
my calluses that cushion my pen when I write,
my teeth marks on fingers sucked for comfort.
Clouds on my nail beds? She tallies:
You have seven secret loves!
Like her sables, her fingertips splay,
and flirt as they plait braids,
and flit between canvas and stove.
In a cabana at the lake, I spy her surgical scar.
I long to soothe its jagged threads. Decades later,
she’ll die alone, B-movie on TV, last cigarette
smoldered to ash in her fingers, her fridge nearly bare:
one egg, a slice of bread, a dried salami curl.
Everywhere paintings. Her last work: shirt soaked red
as if scalpel sliced from breastbone to scapula
to expose rosebuds, tightly furled.