“Mother” by Lauren Keil

My mother taught me how to braid

my hair.

She showed me how to part,
how the three plaits showed my ordinarily hidden
hazel strands so well.
I changed with her eyes
and grew up
the apotheosis of her drowsy motherhood.

She admired the order of things,
of laundry, of toys, of dishes,
of children in their element.

And she would read wallpaper,
grapevines, yellow print. She’d fasten
herself to the trim, with eyes
she left up 5-foot high.

And I grew up eating apples,
shoving the cores between the cushions,
climbing stinky pear trees,
tasting the calcium of animals,
blushing from a stranger’s grin,
braiding my hair,
strand by strand.