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Not even eating matters, which is something

       no one tells us, which is something I learn 

later, after I have badgered my mother to eat,

      after she has finally asked for a fried egg every day 

for three days and given me a little taste 

      of hope and then loses her taste for that again,

after bargaining over a sip of vodka she only 

      sometimes wants so that we mix it with metaphors

 and the clear red liquid we want her to drink

       for her own good for goodness sake, 

after the daily vitamins that we find 

      dropped between her bed and the wall where the dust settles 

and we pick up after her, after all 

      is said and done, when it’s easy

to be wise, to set myself wise after life

       bolts after the horse that sounds like breathing like 

a sore throat of a body echoing, after my own heart

      jolts because we look after

her and take after her, and there’s no going back, 

      no filling back up, no crow or dirt or words.

Previously published in Bennington Review (Summer 2021)