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Mother, the dust is crawling up your neck,
like the pretty strand of pearls I used to play with.
It gathers in lines across your forehead, trails of
dirt and thoughts that stain your skin.
Mother, your cheeks are flushed, and you busy yourself
around the small, dry garden. You pull up the dirty beige roots.
We used to dance around your feet, singing songs of spring.
Your arms are full, and I want to cry when I drop my load.
Mother, the little one won't stop crying; his face is puckered
and feverish. Tiny coughs burst like shivers through his body.
Father would know what to do, I want to say. I want to say it, but you cry when I say his name. I count the days he's been gone.
Mother, I saw Grandma's writing on a letter today, all the way
from New York City. Will we get to visit? I ask you, but you close
your eyes and turn away. Love is like the dusty wind that stings
against your eyes, you say. I nod. I know how it hurts to feel.