Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
I see you, and you are standing
And there are orange blossoms
Up in your hair, and everywhere;
And everywhere is the scent of summer,
And everywhere is the warm, good scent,
That clean smell of your neck
And your hair when it was done just right.
(I remember when the woman came in.
She did your hair over the kitchen sink
Because your bones were too brittle,
As thin as strings of hair,
As thin as strings of pearls.)
I remember also the kitchen sink
And bathing there: your soft, warm hands
Caressing my pink baby arms;
The water flowing, and your laughter
And your hands, and all of you
Was all over me and my baby pinkness.
That was when, I think, I began
To look like you and to smell like you
And to laugh in that warm, pink way
That you laughed. You are the place
That I learned to laugh and to be beautiful,
Warm by the hearth of your beauty,
Safe by the home of your bosom.
You are standing now, sweetly,
By the sink, and you are cooking,
You are cooking for your man,
And for your halfdozen children,
And for your thousands of grandchildren.
You are singing, and then I began to sing,
And you would stop what you were doing
And you would look up at me
With the same dark eyes that I fixed back on you.
Your hands in the water, covered in laughter
And covered in song. You are the place
I learned to be stronger than
Any dry, hair-thin bones. You are the smell
Of aloe leaves, all comfort and soothing
Like being wrapped in a cool summer breeze.
I see you, standing, your arm through your man’s arm,
And your arms full of flowers, pink and beautiful
And strong and kind and good.