Chemical Peel

today I had the skin burnt off my face for fun, to reveal one


beneath, a fresher girl, spring of last year instead

of next. one more attempt to thwart the dead

thing i’ll be. my baby, five, paints me, red


face, many creases, where you smile,

she points, we laugh a while,

then she asks, can mamu be my mama when you die?


mamu’s my mom, so it seems unlikely this will work. i say nothing true

except that I will always be her mom. take this fake view:

our nightly bubble baths will stay perpetual, i will shampoo


her baby hair forever, although i know some truth somewhere

someone once said something about it, time. it’s hard from here

to put my finger on the moving circus in my mind. what’s clear:


girls fly, swing, dip, turn days to magic, lemon candy,

chapter books and princesses, neytiri, avatar, ballet,

bright broccoli in the trash, i cherished that first lie,


my baby, three: how did that get there anyway?

and actually who can say?

what was my great great grandma’s name,


will my babies’ babies’ babies remember one syllable

of my babies’ names? dalin and light, unthinkable,

the letting go, sing such slow vanishing, hold onto each pink bubble


First published by Arrowsmith