an invite to Oma, to join me in queer time

This poem won Editor's Choice in 2-Day Poem Contest 2022

I think you’ll like it here the way you liked to join me at Harrison Hot Springs in the adult tub I raced & beat you to slowed by double-checking your silhouette into the lobby and how we’d slink into the tub till our fingers and toes resembled one another and the overripe plums you’d layer carefully onto pastry tart for birthdays

time loops — i’ve flown back, Oma past your funeral or, spectacle where i’m so sorry but everyone all noctambulant and teary perked up only in toast swearing hand-on-heart you loved abba until all anyone remembered was the mnemonic number till i can’t hear your name without hearing Anni-Frid, Björn, Benny, Agnetha

sorry dear mamma (mia)
the mamma of my mamma I thread back through my own lifetime until your leather boots that we filled with your paint brushes are no longer next to your soft, settled ashes and I stomp alongside you drawing an incomplete map in reverse

it’s warm here, too in queer time where your energy turns through me where I am a pulse in the thumb that grasps the brush for one more guiltless hour where we are blurring away our relativity until it has no order and our spine merges, and you straighten me

here, if you join me I will press my peachy cheek to yours and heal all the sprawling strokes that leap between our pages as we co-author a broadside print our shared work and release it then quietly regrow that lush garden you tended after braiding my hair into a cross I would bear to stay tidy past supper though I plunged stubborn fingers into aphid-filled soil and you screamed

here I can parent you the parent of my parent tell you stories of a world that burst through the seams of the one you knew where you were already so multiplicitous: artist, teacher plate-dodger table filled to the brim with sweets aching of apology stuck as you were your red boots cursing for the days you might have stepped out of the bog of identity away from Mrs. freed of Mother peeling all unwanted layers like bruises cut off battered plums

here—here, those selves are joined—they are ripening with the plum cake—they have blown out the candles—they are sucking the juice from the wax—they are pruning, pruning—extending a hand to ease me—from the bath— where you have caught me—eyeing below the collarbone of one too many ladies—far too many years beyond me—only here you do not scold me—here you press your face to mine—knowing in the place our cheeks touch—there is a mother—my mother—who in this life of mine—with this queer and looping heart—I will find ways to love better than you ever could—

for the both of us