Four Women

by MaKenzie Jean Copp

Mother of my Mother’s Mother,
I’ve swung through a passage of trees
to talk with you, in this place,
where the mirror holds a woman
who has now come home.
Four generations have graced this mirror with their eyes,
and this mirror holds memories other than mine.
Fragile glass breaths fragile pasts,
but I must write to you
about my own reflection—
my body demands it, no matter my scribbled sins—
for time has entrusted her with your robust, dimple cheeked,
full teeth smile—
placed on her head the youth you knew—
wrapped her in beauty you held.
She is searching for answers in the grey pools
of your electric eyes.
She yelps barbarically.
She would make you proud.
Would she make you proud?
She wipes steam from glass,
but only finds more unclarity.
She stands in solidarity,
picture frame next to picture frame.
She is the blood that once swam through your veins:
we all are, here
in this green house hallway:
home to a white haired shadow,
an angelic alcoholic,
a work schedule widow,
and a young vagabond.

This green box
holds humming handfuls of memories,
spilling out of one mind and into another,
my life, and my mother’s,
and her mother’s,
and her mother’s.
Green shingles,
like green grass,
like green youth that says goodbye before hello,
but searches through the footholds of time.
Time changes everything,
but somehow, it has connected
your face and mine.
And here, in this house,
I search for the reason why.

Funny little place, sing to me,
for you have borne witness,
heartache and butterflies, giggles and gloom,
to a history soaked in the blood of four women,
the song of the wombs from which I was birthed,
the hands by which I was raised,
the lungs that filled to aid my scream,
and the minds that taught me that I can dream.

Here, I feel you like the vibrations of a gong,
metal pang in the timbers of my feet,
waves through the warm lake of my chest,
echos in the foggy hollow of my fabricated memory.
One picture: white hair and small toes:
“Oh Honey, she’s beautiful”
Unfamiliar faces that seem like home.
A glossy constellation of stars
lay in a sky of shag carpet.
Tiny fingers furrow through those textile tendrils.
Tiny fists clench, spongy cosmos
spilling from fingertips, pulling my way
to the root of this floor,
pulling my way to you.

Mother’s arms thrusting through doorways,
a wheelchair rolling through the hallways,
men leaving just like always.
A women’s den of courageous tears,
lifting and soaring through the years.
Slippers on one side of a queen bed,
empty wardrobe in the basement,
silent tears of a strong mother
that the daughter hears,
but not her brother.
Gold earrings near the bathroom sink,
gold bracelets in the dresser,
golden sunsets through the big bay windows,
one last gold band
resting weightlessly
on a finger where others
had laid like lead.

Peanuts in a tray on the granite countertop.
A vase full of lillies in the liquid sun.
Brown leather couch cuddles
brown leather skin.
Loss like ice cream on the roof of my mouth,
sweet cold memories that warm up in the end.
Clock hands striking, shaking, singing,
your step, her step, her step, mine.
Loss like blood turning to stone in your veins,
a life that can never be whole again.
She shuts the lights off in that room,
leaves that leather to crack,
but one day we’ll help her find her way,
one day the light will come back.

The freckle on the left of my upper lip
holds more weight than any scar she leaves.
The thickness of our hair
tells more about our story
than any words could ever dare.
The jeans we wear are more beautiful
than any god damn ball gown out there.
In this place, dancing through the kitchen
in cotton shirts and pink silk scraps,
chunky beads and aged couture, clipped on,
I am royalty, and this face,
that looks like hers,
that looks like hers,
that look like yours,
is more than my own:
it’s a painting by your hand,
blood red masterpiece,
it’s the roar of our little band,
every beat a
deep cut
open arms
scribbled letter
that together
spell out
who we are.