I had only one desire: to dismember it. To see of what it was made…
– Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
You brushed her hair when your mother was ill,
sunlit silk, hot sand slipping through fingers by the creek,
not of burnt sugar spun in air.
You stared at it, trying to make some of the gold go into you,
she asked you what you were doing.
Body cane-straight so that when she wore dresses,
they hung like elegant washing, left to dry.
Calico and soap, Sunday milk,
the cat with golden eyes watching the
relentless washing and scrubbing until skin split
to white flesh.