My Mother’s Nipples
For Robert Hass
I press your book to my nostrils
and smell mahogany.
I think that is a word you would like.
Length and description
were always your forte.
I think repetition is mine.
I wonder what my mother’s nipples would be.
Countless nurses who watched her undress
for chemo and stole glimpses.
They would be my lack
of nursing from them.
They would be the absence
On a drive from Knoxville to Atlanta
they are my father holding her hand,
she questions her beauty, the clothes
she wears no longer fit.
He mumbles that her breast
is exposed. She tugs at her shirt
buttons as if this were the first
time he’d seen them.
At home in bed,
they are my father kissing
her breast and whispering
You are still beautiful, Fuzzy Bear
to the bald shell
crying in his grasp.
In Woodlawn Cemetery,
they are a headstone
on a hillside.
Marker grey like sickness
in her cells.
They are the leaves changing in the fall.
They are mahogany.
Luci Brown is a graduate of the University of Tennessee where she was a recipient of the Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for creative writing. She has served as a reader for Best of the Net Anthology for the past three years and is currently a managing editor for Stirring as well as a buyer at a used bookstore. Her work has appeared in Moon City Review.