She called after midnight from every sleepover,
begged to come home. Alarming as it was,
there was the luxury of settling her back into bed.
Until she wouldn’t be seen with us.
In time came a midnight call of the terrifying kind.
Hospital, alcohol. She sang in her room after fits
of weeping. Laid waste, ripped through, mended,
cured. Then it would start again. How did one body
contain the churn? Shifting mirrors,
colliding bits of colored glass, how did we?
She couldn’t wait to leave home, couldn’t bear to.
Once I stood at her door, long
metal spoon in my hand from cooking.
We both thought I would hurl it. Mercy descended.
O why so angry? Like my mother’s jagged bolt
of love, blazed by fear. Legacy
running the line of mothers and daughters:
does anything redeem us?
Beverly Burch’s third poetry collection, Latter Days of Eve, won the John Ciardi Poetry Prize and will appear in 2019. Her first, Sweet to Burn, won a Lambda Literary Award and the Gival Poetry Prize. Her second, How a Mirage Works, was a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award. Poetry and fiction appear in Denver Quarterly, New England Review, Willow Springs, Salamander, Tinderbox, Mudlark, and Poetry Northwest.