An old man asked
“Would you like to see my mother?”
He took us into a small dark room
at the back
of the ancient apartment he called home
and there she was
tiny, pupal
laid out like a saint
glowing like a mysterious lamp
a pot of gold
at her head like a halo
a clock with no hands
she clutched to her belly
like a sibyl

The man said she was given me
by my brother
who alas died in an accident
involving lightning and a horse
She was given
to him by our sister
who rode off on a shark
one Christmas night
such a gambler
She had received our mother in trade
in turn
from an aunt who attempted to kill
an evil kaiser
and failed
You know her excruciating story
how she was torn
Before that she belonged to various royalty
and before that she
served the gods themselves
served them cups
with her tiny fingers

Here, he pointed to her hands
the tiny cupbearers
in the darkness
and the little mother smiled and spoke
or rather sang
like a gilded painting
in the dark
“It’s true,” she said
“These hands…”
“They drank…”

And then he closed the door
on the tiny room
so reverentially
and she receded into history

but I could hear
how she began to laugh, quietly, to herself

behind the little gold door


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