Emily O’Neill

WHEN MOTHER WAKES UP IN THE GARDEN

 

 

she’s blue at the edges & her feet won’t touch the floor.

 

What difference does the year make. Isn’t she still

 

here. Isn’t she floating in her nightgown

 

coming in through the bay window

 

to face the couch as if sitting down hadn’t bled

 

from her timeline two sequels ago.

 

Where was the sun when we tried to make tea with it.

 

Where is it now that she’s moonflower open

 

like always. What to say to the missing. Do we stay

 

frozen in time same as them. Am I a child until someone kills me.

 

Was she. Did she die or get cut in the rewrite. Is she only in her trailer.

 

Could she fidget less in wardrobe. Talk back only between takes.

 

Take fewer breaks. Take off her dress for the burial.

 

Hang it over a chair. Slide her skin down a hole

 

& ride the darker skins of plums back to the outside.

 

Into the good dirt. Gone like she meant it. Isn’t she still.

 

Doesn’t she hate to repeat herself. Why bother dying more than once.

 

Can’t wring life from a cut rose unless you bury it. Did you think

 

of what might happen. Do you need to skirt the question. The distance

 

between our mouths & our mouths is opening. Did she ever

 

actually flower. Did she bother bearing stone fruit. Did she hum

 

or imagine her son chasing after her daughter with a hunting blade

 

or butcher’s knife. Would that make it easier. In the kitchen

 

they look more like siblings. Mother wakes up as a bruise

 

yellowed between her two children. What woman offered

 

old growth wouldn’t make a cutting. Try

 

a second time. Doesn’t she hate repeating

 

herself. Won’t she until the right version takes.

biography

O'Neill Author Photo 2
EMILY O’NEILL is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent work can be found in Five Quarterly, inter|rupture, and Powder Keg, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.