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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