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However Mother has reappeared—
Say, as motes on a feather duster—
Scientists say the galaxy
Was created thus. This daybreak
She seeds a cumulous cloud.
Wherever Mother is bound
She’s joined ashes ashes
Or dirt underfoot or bits off
Tower North and Tower South.
Repurpose does not arrive whole cloth.
From stardust, dust bunnies,
Dust Bowl, Dust unto Dust,
To Dunbar’s What of his love, what of his lust?
Dust is a thing astronomers collect
And where the sparrow bathes herself.
“Not a cloud in the sky,”
Mother says, as she hangs the laundry outside,
Father paints en plein air,
And we girls sweep crumbs under the rug.
This summer, Father sees
In the senseless rooms and corridors
The daughter cannot respire.
In the vulgar cosmic
The mother cannot be revived
In wet traffic.
I lie down in the sunlight
And see my mama moting around
As sympathetic ash.
Yes, one morning I’ll be soot with her—
Elegiac and original.
for Nicole and Alissa
Kimiko Hahn is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Brain Fever and Toxic Flora. Both of these were triggered by fields of science in the same way previous work was triggered by Asian American identity, women's issues, black lung disease, and personal grief. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, CUNY.
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