KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Poem: 198 words (R)

Over a Shoulder

by Jack Cooper
How often your death yields to ephemera,
to old patterns of endearment,

the gifting impulse,
like stopping outside a hat shop 

and seeing you 
in that other way of seeing,

no longer my mother
but Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall

seducing the mirror in the perfect felt fedora 
over a shoulder dropped for effect

then putting it back with the words,
“A woman never gets over such silliness,”

and in the computer store
catching myself rehearsing 

ways to show you at long last
how easy to move a thought around

(to go back and start again 
like a life imagined).

In the last years 
your soft white gloves 

had hidden your swollen knuckles
from decades of pounding out Dad’s books

at the old Smith Corona
until you couldn’t go on,

Dad angry at himself 
for how much it must have hurt 

and now amid waves of bravado like
“I never would let anyone say 

one bad thing about your mother,”
he can’t pick up after himself

and I had to find six people to take your place
as if a certain space in the world

would always be yours
like the aura of a severed leaf.

—From Across My Silence (World Audience, Inc., 2007); republished here by author’s permission.

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