My mother does not trust
women without it.
What are they not hiding?
Renders the dead living
and the living more alive.
Everything I say sets
the clouds off blubbering
like they knew the pretty dead.
True, no mascara, no evidence.
Blue sky, blank face. Blank face,
a faithful liar, false bottom.
Sorrow, a rabbit harbored in the head.
The skin, a silly one-act, concurs.
At the carnival, each child’s cheek becomes
a rainbow. God, grant me a brighter myself.
Each breath, a game called Live Forever.
I am small. Don’t ask me to reconcile
one shadow with another. I admit—
paint the dead pink, it does not make
them sunrise. Paint the living blue,
it does not make them sky, or sea,
a berry, clapboard house, or dead.
God, leave us our costumes,
don’t blow in our noses,
strip us to the underside of skin.
Even the earth claims color
once a year, dressed in red leaves
as the trees play Grieving.
– Dora Malech (who visited Maryland last week, and came to class)