Poetry Issue 5

   Issue#5: July - December 2005

Conchitina Cruz

The Last Page

      Her mother looks at the woman’s body and sees graffiti on the side of a train. What has he done to you? she asks, wincing at the tattoos, the dragon draped across her shoulder, the Last Supper sprawled on her stomach, the halo around the halo of her navel. Her mother doesn’t ask what will you do now he is dead—she wonders instead how to undo the traces of the lover’s needle and ink on the woman’s body, she wants to know how her daughter can be un-touched. I look up from the last page, right before the woman speaks, and think of your mother, walking toward me after the terrible call, after each number going dark in the elevator and the long walk down a hollow corridor. She looks different is all she can bear to say, and I take her word for it. I don’t peel myself off the bench outside your door. I am unable to take one last look at you. Who can blame the mother who bargains for the daughter she had on page one, the woman prior to the heroine and her grotesque body, infected by epiphanies? Weeks later, we find ways to pass time—your mother wipes all the furniture in her house with wood polish, willing every surface to shine, and over coffee, I listen to a long-lost friend lament the end of another relationship. The tattooed woman leans against a mirror, or she looks her mother in the eye, or she surveys the view from the window. What does she say right before the story ends when she opens her mouth to speak—I don’t know, she must say in plain yet eloquent terms that she is beyond retrieval, and I won’t have any of it. My friend knows nothing of my grief, and I console her with stories of your sordid affairs, I judge you without mercy as if you were still here, on the other end of the phone, on the verge of a word I refuse to hear because I must say, again and again, snap out of it, you’re too good for him, please get a hold of yourself.