Mom was perfect from day start till shut eye. I can’t mourn her: her myth remains, clogging my mind like milfoil. The woman, not my mother, died.
She willed good things to happen, healed wounds with a kiss, never lost her cool. She exuded control, and I believed it of her, even after I saw her face without her teeth or commanding smile.
At twenty-three, sans my wisdom teeth, I passed a doorway in a huge medical center, a woman’s face spotlighted in the operating chair, visible because the dentist leaned away.
Her hand flashed up to hide the unmade bed of her mouth, the unguarded pink walls of her gums, stretched between two or three isolated teeth.
She was instantly in tears.
It was my fault. I felt that terrible comfortable nausea of knowing I’d screwed up, just not how.
So I resorted to mythic beauty.
Honorable Mention: Fall, 2011