My Mother with Kohl on Her Eyes
and an Egyptian smile,
red mouth and hennaed hair.
A brief incarnation
wafting the odor of Juicy Fruit,
face powder and nicotine. This one
is so gay, not like a mother at all.
Such excitement when she arrives home
late in the evening
from the counter at the drugstore.
The Jewish apteka,
where she makes money for Maury and us,
selling Prince Matchabelli,
Evening in Paris, bright lipstick, and eye
shadow which she never wears.
Except in this dream
thirty years later, her eyes weighted
with mystery, her cold eyes
smeared with kohl.
What is she trying to say?
That the dead are beautiful,
living in night dreams
like they never did
in the light of day?
My mother with al-kohl on her eyes,
made from antimony or galena
for Asiatic eyes,
lidded eyes, black eyes.
Like the one my father
gave her, the one she took
with her when she died. Her flesh
turning yellow and purple
like any common bruise. A single eye,
solitary like the eye of the sun or moon,
the eye of the so weeping blood
each month and my mother
with kohl on her eyes,
what is she trying to say?
(Previously published in the anthology Hard Love, Queen of Swords Press)
Born and raised in Detroit by working-class Polish-American parents, Christina Pacosz has written works that have appeared in literary magazines and online journals for over half a century. A poet-in-the-schools and a North Carolina Visiting Artist, she has published several books of poetry, including Greatest Hits, 1975-2001, Pudding House, 2002, a by-invitation-only series. Her chapbook, Notes from the Red Zone, originally published by Seal Press in 1983, was selected as the inaugural winner of the ReBound Series by Seven Kitchens Press in 2009. Her chapbook How to Measure the Darkness is also available from Seven Kitchens as part of the Summer 2012 Series.
Photo ©Joanne Warfield