Glosa for My Deteriorating Mother by Haro Lee

I don’t ask you to love me always like this,

but I ask you to remember.

Somewhere inside me

there’ll always be the person I am tonight

–Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Your hair, it’s summoned by moonlight now–

One day I noticed

how your middle parting beamed

at me. A silver embroidery. The first unwrapping

of fish cartilage by nature’s teeth.

It was so easy to dismiss

it then. After you painted your roots

we both went back to normal,

that new tapestry allowing us to miss

the warning: I don’t ask you to love me always like this.

That was a long time ago. The first

season that produced white foliage,

it returned. The tufts that grew

you painted over like swans

dipping themselves in night’s lake, emerging

black again. Your timber

weakened. The strands grew thin, breaking

off, the charcoal of it turning brown, burnt sienna,

then a sick jaundice. You’d grab a tender

bunch of it. Understand. But I ask you to remember

when being young mattered to you.

When you were always there,

always for me, you on a silver platter,

the crop of your head

a waterfall that always ran black.

Black vines, black veins, black sea,

rich of dark matter.

The memories of a younger you

burn something beastly,

something molten, somewhere inside me,

yearning. But your hair now,

you catch seasons with it.

Your head is a winter lake, flash frozen by age.

And you know how much I want

to break the ice, search for something bleak. Maybe you,

twenty years younger, a crown of night

growing from your head.

A younger you,

promising, against time’s flight:

There will always be the person I am tonight.
Photo by James Wheeler on

About the Poet:

Haro Lee lives in South Korea with her grandmother. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Zone 3 Press, The Offing, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. She was also the recipient of Epiphany Magazine’s Breakout 8 Writers Prize. You can find her @pilnyeosdaughter.


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