Julie Rouse

If my mother and I are enmeshed
I am seventeen and she is twenty
and we love, we love, we love
our pity. We guild each other
all over like the statue of Mary
I made out of broke seashells
for her birthday. Mary has her eyes
and especially her big nose
she is so proud of because the rest
of her is tiny. Even her hands’ veins
are small, and her pelvic bones that
pried wide open for me. I came out
with hair like her troll doll,
her second or maybe third
but her first real baby.
She was disappointed by my little
nose until she rubbed and burnished it.
My mother has dark water
in the middle of her forehead.
You can actually see the fish and
plants poking through the surface
of her eyes. I have to tell her
what to see, I can see in but
she can’t see out except for
the world covered in green
algae and scales. Sometimes
I dive in right in public,
a horse into an itty bitty plastic pool
with a sparkly girl balanced
on its back. My 20 year old mother
wears a halter bikini and her pubes
poke out around the leg holds,
they are truly beautiful and lushly
organic because she doesn’t care.
She is like a nun who doesn’t like the word
fuck because it ruins a beautiful act
between two people in love.
I can’t say I like it
when my man fucks me
in front of other people although
we are in love I like to be made
uncomfortable. But I am seventeen
and haven’t seen any dick but
my father’s, small-seeming
next to his porn. The only part
of my mother that I haven’t seen
naked is her asshole, which I imagine
to be Ivory clean and small.
When my mother reads this poem,
she seals from the waist down.
Then I clutch her around
her slender neck and we swim
farther than any ship can go or any
rude sailor can see.