My Mother Was Lavender
My mother was lavender and my father
picked her. My mother laughed
in the meadow as if dancing her first
swing in the night club. In San Francisco, California
low clouds cover themselves in the drag
of darkness but it’s still male underneath,
still dancing with her. My father picked
my mother’s lavender on the side of a highway,
her hair in the photo curled with an iron
hot enough to burn, though it left her curls
soft and fit to dance around a butterfly clip.
There are photos of my father, the smallest
he’s ever been, climbing up trees that shaded
her growth. They were married
in winter, in a stone church with gargoyles
perched as center pieces on white tables. My mother’s
hair was curled and long like a nymph in a painting of
French gardens, whose title was,
“We Bought the Land!” I imagine my parents sped
to the nearest road and hiked a trail
dotted with meadows and dozed off there until tiny
strangers gave me my name and
woke them with an index ﬁnger to the ribs.
In a dark theater, I found a ballerina,
crouched beneath a forest of cardboard trees,
red and green lights tickling her back,
a holiday orchestra humming through her body.
By the glow of the twinkle lights I stumbled over to her,
and stood by her heap, a teenager, a recent collapse.
She had wasted away already, almost nothing but red lace on
I carried her off the stage; her skin bruised easily against
My fingers touching the fabric of her costume tempted me to ask
is this what happens when ballerinas are hungry?
Do they break like the shell of a walnut,
when the wooden soldier closes his mouth?
Alive, still, her eyes focused on mine,
like two broken mirrors they refracted back,
shattered fragments of a mouse army, sugar plum fairies,
vomit that had cascaded down satin frills.
Her gaze seemed distant now, her lids lowered.
I caught the last glimpse of a million hands,
throwing roses to bleeding anorexics,
who once were the most graceful dancing snowflakes.
Joan Maro received her BA in Egyptology from UC Berkeley in
2012. She has been a poet all her life but is just now beginning
to show her work to the world. She is the winner of the Best
Poet Award in Porter Gulch Review 2013 and the Cabrillo College
Mary Lonnberg Smith Award for a Published Poem. She currently
serves as a board member for Poetry Santa Cruz.