Somewhere between the first move and
the last, my mother orders a chandelier online
but doesn’t know how to install it.
It’s sometime late November: early dark,
the day going out, barbeque in the oven
starting to fill the house with an odor my brothers
wrestling in the basement will soon smell,
bringing them pounding up the stairs.
On a ladder in the foyer, she’s replacing just the crystals
from the old wrought-iron chandelier,
stringing each new tear-shaped gem
into the curve of a black hook,
so its empty weight dangles there for dusk
to scatter through it, slanting from the windows
into flecks of bleached rainbow sent
slowing across the walls like a song fading
into the memory of a song.
Perched on a high rung, she looks a moment
at me descending the stairs, my gangling body
wrapped in a blanket, hair like a mop,
and for a brief time, our gazes cross
at the same height, eye level and speechless, looking
into someone else’s life that is also our own life.
I don’t know what keeps her mind stiff
but spinning like a weather vane in a storm.
It’s unclear if she feels—quiet as she is, watching those jewels
suspend—the strange intrigue
of seeing through them her own body as it might look
afterwards: a shadow, distorted,
spilling its shape across the floor.