Treasure Island

Chris Tusa

(01.01,72 / New Orleans, Louisiana)

Kindergarten Portrait of My Mother at Mardi Gras


She looks rather pathetic, really,
leaning against the black air,
the three mangled fingers of her left hand
clutching a yellow purse,
her right arm raised over her head
as if to shield herself
from the silver shower of stars
raining down upon her.

Her mouth is a crack
growing beneath her nose.
Two dimples open like holes
in her cheeks. A pink ear
dangles from her chin.

Looking at it now, it's clear.
But who could have possibly know then
the dark shades of meaning
lurking in the shadow of her face,
the quiet relevance of the pearl necklace
swimming around her neck,
the orange birds drifting above her
like question marks?

Or that twenty years later
it would all make sense-
the way her eyes roll toward the sky,
the way my father stands behind her
in the crowd, arms waving
in the wind, as if he's slowly drowning
in the black sea of faces.

Submitted: Saturday, June 11, 2005
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  • Eric Paul Shaffer (8/20/2006 4:52:00 PM)

    Excellent work. Photographs are scary because they catch so much of the actual, though few writers ever interpret so well what appears within the frame. I also applaud your decision not to go all sentimental on us. I grow tired of writers of poems who canonize their parents so that said writers need not actually look at their parents and their lives and their remarkably ill-informed decisions to bring us into what Kurt Vonnegut has called 'this thing, whatever it is.' Parents, it would seem, are full of the same pain and terror we are, so I admire someone who faces that truth and states it plainly. Thanks. (Report) Reply

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