Poetry: Michele Lesko

Mother’s Birthday in Paradise: 1967

At home on Date Street mother slips into
a cotton shift after knocking mangoes from
our neighbor’s tree. Their fruit and some

crayfish from our backyard stream make
up my supper. Walking to meet my father,
she pretties her hair with one moon-bright

Magnolia. On Waikiki he gives her jade tears
to hang from her ears. Twenty-seven silver
coins spent to match her years. Waiting

up for them, gut-rubbed by the raw desire
for food, I stare at the painted pig
that lay shattered on my bed. He broke it

for a jeweler’s box instead of the market bag
promise of flesh after a season of rice. Their
once-upon-a-time still keeps me
sleeping meat and potato dreams.

In Morning

She wakes framed by his arms and edges
of old sheets: strained white linen
long ago hauled from cedar. Languid
her husband curls close by her hip,
while her eyes remain fixed
on the photo of a girl wrapped
in white satin. She is stillness,
a vessel filled with fresh picked
cherries waiting beneath
the June sun.