—for Rex and Marie
My mother picks cotton every summer of her youth.
Ribboned in organza, she endlessly waits
for the ticket master, and the train to Vigo Park,
where she’ll greet her aunt and uncle on the platform,
before stepping over hot furrows to reach the fields.
This is how memory works: it seizes something—
an abundant mouth on the stem, and bends over it
until it’s plucked, swathed in burlap, stored for summer
ginning. The ache low in the back, the dogwood blossoms
thin at the edges. Years slip by
like sleeper cars, but that single, white boll remains.
Long after the train has stopped running, and the platform
emptied—long after the field and barn have burned,
and weathered hands no longer jostle the hair
and pink felt hat of the beloved.