The Poetry Project

Erinrose Mager

Warp of a Fabric

In the hoped-for future, gulls swarm the sky to announce the ship’s arrival. The ship abuts the harbor, and there, in the crowd, stands the mother. The daughter waits by the pier. The crowd deboards. She has waited for this meeting, an actual life’s delayed recommencing. It does happen this way sometimes. Sometimes, the dock is indeed the locus of return. Fish rot thus lingers in the nose. A single reunion is a pinprick of light spilled from the clumsy planet. Zoomed out, the whole globe shimmers and dims and shimmers. Each refracts upon the next. The mother waves, hand high in the white air, and her coat sleeve catches the breeze, balloons like a bell, deflates, and slips down the arm toward the pit. Later, the sun will bonk about tectonically until the mother’s truly dead and then, further off, the daughter’s truly dead, but now—now, in the unrecognizable moment, they’re here. They’re here, close enough to recognize the physical self in the other. Same wideness of the face, connoting generosity. Similar dynamic brows. Staggered stages of aging. All this actual life in the wake of several decisions. Someone’s saying hi, but neither mother nor daughter has spoken. She could walk toward the moment of her reckoning. It’s the big fear: too little time to root around in the other’s hope, which is never enough. What a benevolent monstrosity. Nothing bright, nothing like relief. What is grief in reverse? It’s the illumination of something immune to light. The daughter shades her eyes with a flattened hand, as though she’s been afforded the chance many times in their pasts. They’ve been this close before, and then the widest berth imaginable. Only the parent remembers their first closeness, their first departure. Only the parent knows the child’s first sound. Only the child knows the parent’s kindest interior. The sea sloshes around in its container. The gulls careen for their meal. The crowd disperses. The mother walks the length of the pier. The pier’s shadows broaden. The daughter, having been unable to eat, wants nothing but water. The daughter stands as though she’s forgotten a deeply held ceremony. As they’ve known only distance, they’re unsure of how to cross it. They can just approach.

Issue 19