THE YEAR MY MOTHER TURNED BACK TIME
by Susan Michele Coronel
It was the year my brother
turned to ashes
and scattered like pollen in the sea. (carried by trees, wind and leaves)
My mother jerked her head backwards
to shake off a grief that could not be shaken,
and then time reversed,
kaleidoscopically. My brother became 16 again,
strengthening his biceps, flexing them
to lift the TV remote off the wheelchair armrest.
The girl with the mulberry eyes
is smiling at him. She’s rolling a Lifesaver
in the folds of her tongue
and he marvels at her titanium hair.
Then he’s 9 years old, running
to first base on a softball field,
and instead of constantly falling,
he’s standing upright. The fat in his calves
is shrinking, plump legs easing
into lanky sticks. (not stilts or spears or crutches)
Suddenly he’s 6 years old
and he and I are gasping for air
in a fort under my parents’ quilt,
where we listen to Casey Kasim’s Top 40 Countdown.
We pretend that we’re lost and in love,
opening the edges of the covers
to catch our breath. I force him to tell me
his favorite song under threat of tickle torture.
Time is shifting again like a wobbly chair
and now he’s a toddler.
I’m laughing hysterically as I make silly faces
and twirl scarves around his playpen. (not a mulberry bush, a tangle of brambles or wire)
Then in a flash he’s in his crib,
throwing toys like river stones,
drops of milk staining his bib
as he relaxes into the arms of his baby nurse.
He is swimming in a dark corner (not a cave, sinkhole or lagoon)
of my mother’s womb, twisting
to the sound of throbbing blood. Amniotic fluid
around his newly formed brain
might be tapped but -- false alarm -- my mother is choosing
at the last minute not to do an amniocentesis,
even after warnings from her aunts,
whose sons also had the disease. (superstitions and salt spray from the family tree)
Water blossoms are twisting
around his scoliotic spine
and mutated strands of DNA,
until at last I hear the squeaky mattress
where our parents’ bodies are beating.
About the Author
Susan Michele Coronel is a New York City-based poet. She has a B.A. in English from Indiana University-Bloomington and an M.S. Ed. in Applied Linguistics from Queens College (City University of New York). She has had poems published in Newtown Literary, The Ekphrastic Review, Beyond Words and Street Cake. She has forthcoming poems in Passengers Journal and in a summer anthology published by Other Worldly Women Press.