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Mother’s Jackal

ISSUE:  Spring 1994
My mother stood with her back to me,
her nosegay-printed dress back to me,
a jackal leashed by her side.

How small his mouth looks
she said, and I nodded. I saw
the moon stippled stucco
when she sang “Moon Shines Its Lamp.”

I pounded meat with a plate’s edge
for his supper; I put my heart
into it, and the jackal ate
and ran the backyard bare.

My mother took to sleeping there,
pried out the diamond of her wedding ring
and glued it to his collar.

But when his head finally reached
the top of our Dutch door
and he’d eaten the bleeding heart bush,
it was my hand he asked for.

I called to my mother then,
her nosegays frozen mid-tumble.
“Wait there,” she said to me
as she stooped to let go the leash.


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