And I hold that nothing is found within these drawers that we ever really needed,
where is Beulah?
And I hold that the quiet in a house swims as film, as space behind the image, where
I made a movie about my life. The opening shot was of a polluted river. The closing
shot, my daughter’s eye.
The opening shot was a yellow wall. The closing shot a dog’s tongue.
And I hold that July is the month of explosions, the month of my birth, the month
of odors and waves.
I made a movie about my life. The opening shot was the remnants of a meal in a sunlit
room. Empty coffee cups and bits of bread. A salad bowl slick with oil, one green
leaf sticking to its rim.
The closing shot: that same meal untouched, the loaf of bread wrapped in cloth, salad
un-tossed, coffee un-poured.
In the one sex-scene a man takes my face between his hands and turns it away from
In the one chase-scene we see only the wheels of the cars and cannot tell which is
the chased, which chasing.
O blue walls. O strike out. fallen cake. glistening pool. I made a movie about my
The opening shot was of the inside of my mother’s mouth, her gold teeth reflecting
the light. The closing shot was her left hand, her father’s ring on her unmoving finger.
And I hold that nothing I could say would ever truly hurt my mothers, immune to my
engines of revenge.
And I hold that nothing I could do would ever protect me from my mothers, from the
look that is at once resentment and love.
Figures in the trees watch over me. O figures. O
And I hold that there is nothing inside the drawer but my birth certificate, my marriage
license, and the deed. That my mothers and my other mothers learned how to sew by
laying their men down on the cloth, cutting the cloth around the men, sewing up the
That my mothers and my other mothers learned how to drive by climbing into the front
seat and letting go the break. Learned how to swim by falling off a stone. Learned
how to cook by burning the oil. Learned to run when they got sick. Learned to write
when the law demanded it. Learned to lie when they needed money. Learned to slap when
they were slapped. Learned to sleep when they learned to read. That my mothers and
my other mothers washed out the tub when their men died, washed down the floor when
their children left, failed at numbers but won at cards. Failed at cards but won at
tennis. Failed at tennis but won at gardening: the orange tree and the lemon tree
in the courtyard, the chard and the spinach behind the house.
Sewed the puppet. They sewed the puppet for me.
And I hold that my mothers and my other mothers drove to the dollar store. Balloons
soaring high for the opening. Flags flapping yellow and red. Enemies of meadows, my
mothers bought cleaning fluid, bought super-balls, bought mac-n-cheese, bought golf-club
pencil sharpeners, and bought underwear. My mothers and my other mothers bought lunch
and carried it home. Easy to eat, it required no utensils, no cooking, no plates,
no cleaning. At the end of the meal, there was nothing to throw away, no crumbs to
wipe off the table, no table.
Where is Carolyn?
The opening shot of the movie I made shows a path leading into the woods—
The closing shot: a close-up of water pooled on pavement, giving up gray to the gray.
And my mothers and my other mothers received visitors into their homes: a lawyer and
a memoirist; a ceramicist and a toy maker; a tango dancer and her father, himself
a scholar of dance. In his difficult English the scholar speaks of the French Revolution,
the French Revolution, the advent of the waltz. My mothers think he is saying “fresh
revulsion,” for my mothers know well the revulsions of bodies.
I made a film about my life. The opening shot was the dancer’s hem, the purple hem
of her skirt. The closing shot: wind bends a young alder to the ground.
In the one fight-scene a body falls from a bridge, falls or is pushed, pushed or is
leaping, leaping or is diving; the river receives him, o neon, neon in the river,
And I hold that my mothers wept in the night coughed in the night vomited in the night
cried out in the night and we listened, soft as wicks, curled in our beds.
We were the daughters and we laughed at our mothers whenever they came into the room.
We knew this was cruel, but we could not help it. They looked at us with hurt faces,
but we couldn’t see them we were laughing so hard, we were under the table, we were
bent over double.
Hands on each other’s knees, each other’s shoulders, we steadied ourselves, gathered
our selves. Outside the sun gave over to sidewalks and roofs, and our mothers were
And so we stood, done with laughing, and walked out the door. And I hold that our
mothers were gone.