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She slept in my bone body for three years.
My missing her a lonely hush. My grief a gold
thing I carried as a ring, immanent. And now
I see her in various cars, in thin blue old
women, bent, intent on a low task, a dropped
coupon, or turning down an aisle in Publix with
a certain hesitation in the gait, a wisp at the park.
I see cowering on the church steps
where wrung-out women sleep on black plastic,
when I’m coming home in the darkness,
and it’s hard not to stop, kneel by her and her and stay.
I don’t know which of the ghost griefs is mine.

I know what I am of her—volatile Irish skin, remarkably
thick hair everywhere, high arches, low blood
sugar, night terror, penchant for lemon, linen,
bicycles—is not what I treasure as much as
what I’m not and what I wonder. Did she
give me a religious life, a touch of her touched?
I do not see the saints, hear commanding
demons but, dear oblivion, the pure presence of
God does truly join me to the world.
As a girl, I fought her to the ground. I fought as a snake fights
bird, a terrible, perfect match, mother and daughter,
God and man.

She’s writing on my body with her veins. She’s under
my skin, visible. It’s so strange to write and find her
hands on my keyboard. (Here’s where I cry.)
Would you rather… (a party game question) turn
into your mother or say endlessly good-bye?

Heather Sellers is the author of You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, a memoir about family, forgiveness, and face blindness that was chosen as an O Oprah Book-of-the-Month Club selection and Editor’s Choice at the New York Times Book Review. Georgia Under Water is her collection of short stories, and she’s published two books of poetry, Drinking Girls and Their Dresses and The Boys I Borrow. Heather was elected teacher of the year by the students at Hope College where she taught creative writing for nearly twenty years. She joined the MFA faculty at the University of South Florida in 2013.

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