The Susans

Three days ago, in her darkened house,
your mother and my mother sipped pinot grigio,

knit small blankets, called late asking Are you
awake? I've made a painting

even you will like. It would have been your birthday,
so your mother and my mother watched

romantic comedies, took turns declining
questions, possibly ate ice cream. Forgive me,

when I grumbled on the phone What painting? Where?
I didn't know—our photos on the mantle there

and my mother had her thumb
on the frame, apologized for marking

its silver. When you died or were killed or
passed on, your grandma held me not remembering

whose I was. The church basement filled with high school
boyfriends. Everyone's damp palms

the truth of you. I never went back—the books I lent,
packed up with the rest of your things, I consider

a sacrifice. But now the Susans take turns
clipping recipes, send them to my out-of-state

address. They have joined clubs (photography), cut
bangs. Each week in swim class, in the shallow pool

they wave their arms—two thick, two thin
as sticks—backstroke, dark ruffled

bathing suits on them. You'll want to know your mother
learned beautifully to breaststroke, crawl, her nose and cheeks

red. She loves smooth trails her hands make, loves best
the part before the end of the lap, when sound

cancels itself, when she hears nothing but her own,
slow pulse, waves her arms above her head,

and tries, once more, to hold her body down.

Laura Davenport is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and is pursuing an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Breakwater Review, the Helen Burns Poetry Anthology, and Best New Poets 2009.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761