Melissa Andres My Mother's Daybed

My mother stirred a kettle

of yucca and yams

over a low fire,

smoke rising from embers,

hints of cedar cloaking the air.

I sat on the porch and swung my legs.

My curiosity provoked

my mother’s anger when I dangled

my hair over the ashes

to watch them burn.

My brother, his head stuck

between two branches,

was choking. My father,

glancing out the window,

saw him between strokes of his razor.

He saved my brother, carried

him over the mudflat

where we waited. Mounds of clay

cluttered the terrace.

A herd of cattle dotted the field.

My gaze landed

on an ant

carrying a grain of sugar

across the boots

my father left behind.

That night, outside

on my mother’s daybed, a firefly

crawled into my ear

and the image of my brother’s head

hovered near the rail.

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