the art of daydreaming

by Mary Mulholland

My mother is gazing beyond the garden,
a capuchin jumps in the rhododendron,
she hears tree frogs behind the ticking
of the grandfather clock. She has sugar-
cane blood, my mother’s made of mango,
she is pineapple, dresses in laughter, passes
darkness to her big-boned daughter to wear.
Sometimes my beautiful mother sings
as she peels potatoes. Her voice is alto.
When she tries soprano she is a spider
monkey. My beautiful mother’s rings
are loose on her fingers, she believes in
rubies and gold to bring her good luck,
she likes to lose herself in dreams.

And had I not gone to that Almodóvar film
I’d have answered her call. Not heard her
voice later, too late to ring back, naming me
in her sing-song way, as if saying goodbye.
Sometimes we just get it wrong. That night
I was too big-boned dumb. By next morning
my beautiful mother is wading back to
her childhood, ankle-deep in warm rain.

My mother is an Amazonian waterlily
she’s floating on dark water, her petals unfurl
like paper decoration. She can’t see
the caiman’s amber eyes waiting,
the green anaconda dangling from a branch,
the harpy eagle that will soar her to the canopy’s
green mantle. My mother doesn’t like green.
Her breathing has become the ocean:
she rushes in to pause on the Demerara silt-shore,
rushes back to rejoin the ocean at the horizon,
mother-waves thrash at the seawall,
she’s wearing foam-lace, ribboning the air
she is a cloud that’s shapeshifting, turning
electric blue, my butterfly mother is sky.