I. I See My Mother as a Fish
I lug to my mother a heavy pail of sand,
gritty and sticky sand like sugar in a sugar bowl,
to bury her old sour body. I offer her another bucket
that holds the green-brown salt water:
a cascade of fish scales, a Chinese jade grave suit,
so that she will have a mermaid’s burial.
II. I See My Mother Lose her Sea Legs
A persistent thought of death draws her eyes
to the spirit level of the sea’s horizon.
She cries out in the terror of falling backwards
off the edge of the world.
III. I See My Mother’s Mind as a Paper Oyster
which, when you put it into a glass of water,
does not dissolve but sends up
a sea wrack of paper flower
Stephanie Rauschenbush is a Brooklyn artist and poet. She is also a docent at the Brooklyn Museum.