Sand Mermaids by Heather Minette

The Blue Hour

My mother is walking in the garden,

her bare feet are calloused

and covered in dirt,

her toenails painted red.

The hem of her sundress is wet from the water pail

and her skin is sticky with sweat,

but her hair smells of the honeysuckles

that grow wild on our chain-link fence

and the gardenias in the walkway

that my sister and I pick

and float in chipped teacups on our bedside tables.

I am five years old and watching her

through the kitchen window.

She hears me tap on the glass and smiles

from over her shoulder.

My mother is in her makeshift art studio,

an old wooden desk in the corner

of our screened-in back porch.

Her hair is bundled into a knot

that sits on top of her head.

Her hands are covered in papier-mâché,

busy sculpting a sad face.

A cigarette rests between her pink lips,

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