“Vision” by Jill Boyles
She saw her mother at a garage sale on a spring blue morning chatting with a woman behind a card table. She closed her eyes and saw her mother’s eyes: translucid gray irises and lids bordered by brown eyeliner. The skin on her face soft and slightly fuzzy. She opened her eyes and saw her mother holding up a white blouse and imagined her saying to the woman, “Only a dollar for this?” and then to herself, With a little bit of bleach, it’ll look brand new.
She saw her mother leave the garage sale on a spring blue morning with blouse in hand and purse over shoulder, elbow pressing it against her side.
She saw her mother that spring blue morning step into a glaucous, gelatinous moment. Her movements thick and gradual. She imagined her mother saying, “I am real. As real as my elbow is pressed against my purse is pressed against my side.” She would scratch her head to prove it, fingers nervously rubbing against skull. Extending from her vagina hung withered umbilical cords and she would wonder about her children and conclude, “They’re nebulous.”
I see my mother’s body wearily gather itself
to move through this moment. She turns toward
me. A malignant tumor branched in her lungs protrudes
from under her shirt. I scream to her but there’s no
sound and soon I’m standing at the edge
of a river with my hands cradling ashes. I cast
her into the air like an offering. The wind sifts,
blowing finer ash back into my face as
bits of burned bone drop
and descend down river
smoldering in the water
She saw her mother emerge back into a spring blue morning. An essence of displaced realness lingered in the back of her mother’s mind. What was I thinking? she imagined her mother asking herself and then shrugging off the question. At the next garage sale, she smiled a hello to the woman behind an old, wooden desk with a tattered crayon box on top. Her mother would be sure to let her know about the bargain blouse she bought next to nothing across the street.
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Jill Boyles Artist Statement: An adult daughter both weighs and imagines her mother’s life and her death.
Jill Boyles’ work has appeared in Toasted Cheese, The Ilanot Review, and The Missing
Slate, among other publications. She holds an MFA and was the recipient of a Minnesota
State Arts Board grant and a finalist for the Jerome Grant. She’s currently working on a
novel. Her Web site is jillboyles.com.