Mother always had her way with words, squinting at my page to find herself, to catch my foreign breath and let it linger, see it blister in lines and die a full death. Ey, she said when I teased her for the hours she would spend, for calling the flower, Gerumium, for the way she spelled, Esnickar. Ey, she said, Na Cun. And she once corrected my English.
Dying trees stretch their bones up and forward like hungry men, the red spreading top–first, the wet falling. Her broken words leave traces in iced fossils of leaves, her drying body in a rose I clipped with the blunt tip of my thumb.
I gather leaves with my husband, saying I need a red one, or, I need the one that has no tears. Now they crunch in pages of Khayyam. I think of the letter I just read with words cut out and rewritten. Circled above, then scribbled, Daddy says like this.
She says a letter makes it way to me. She says I ought to see what words she's spelled this time. I won't tell her what I write, but she asks. Snow crowds a windowpane. Frost blooms and fingers names. Nebraska wind cuts quick. I've moved geraniums in for winter. My aching bones long for mother's words, dried earth, blistered lines of green.