She Never Looked As Good       

I returned from somewhere

no one knew where

all of my children

their porcelain faces

the sticky hair

from gold to brown

to red

Revlon

my precious

and baby dear

my first real newborn

who needed my embrace

to live

 

We had a view

of a bridge

no one was really

part of our world

my children

mine

 

Today I returned

from somewhere

and all of my girls

were gone

no one knew where

too stunned to speak

the shelves were stark

with no faces

only the pattern

on ceiling plaster

of prickly stucco

that would be terrible

if I fell upward

 

But now I’m seeing

empty shelves

someone is getting

some satisfaction

from this

somewhere

 

I don’t know where she is

maybe in the other room

I had no more babies

no certainty

I deserved having my children taken

 

But I was a little girl

Ms Revlon may have left

because of a bad shampoo

I tried

 

She never looked as good after that

maybe she was afraid

of what I might do next

I was such a bad mother

I should have taken better care

maybe the movie about the evil dolls

who talked while you slept

maybe I had made them bad

and someone found out

and

I deserve to have my babies

taken away

maybe I was too old at seven or so

maybe it was time

to let my babies go

 

One day not long after

somewhere

I found my babies strewn upon

someone’s attic floor

  

* Published in The American Poetry Review November/December 2003 as # 9