Poem in Which the Woman I Knew Only as my Mother is Never Appeased

I don't understand her terrible,
insatiable hunger. How she calls
through the day and night
to be fed, 
           though she has eaten;
though the day is a conjugation of meals
that will pass through her as if
it is her ghost
                whose mouth closes around
the spoon and gums rice or bread
into pieces that can be swallowed.
She herself is a mouth 
                       that goes on 
and on; is a long, dark hallway connecting 
to all rooms in the house, but bypassing
the kitchen.
             Perhaps she would like to sleep
near the oven, or next to the white hum
of a packed refrigerator that's never
reduced to light
                 and ice. Perhaps 
she will place cubes of soup on her
tongue until they melt into
a facsimile of ocean.
                      But the waters
rise and rise until the earth is lost
and the boat runs aground on a cliff.
There's no
           book with yellowed
sheets of yolk to spread open in her
hands, no sugar to keep her quiet. 
There's no parade of animals
                             turning from
mottled egg to blood-clumped feather, 
quivering lung and streaky
heart. Cleaned of skin,
                        quartered bodies
suspend from trees as soon as someone 
can find a pot and start a fire. 
Is it better to know you've 
                            been saved
for another hunger? When she asks to be
moved to a different part of the garden,
she says she wants to live. 
                            I don't know
what it means when a body breathes like it
can't bear to cradle itself a moment
longer, when it can't pull
                           the air's burnt
edges away from their soft centers or
hear the bees make honey in hives;
their blooming in rooms of salt water.

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