Warm and soft. I’m inside the warm and soft. Mother’s hand is moving over me in smooth after smooth. It’s a round feeling. It’s a yawn of falling inside. Mother’s hand has a rhythm like rocking. I don’t know what goes up and down and what presses, only it’s warm. Mother makes a breeze in my nose. The breeze is sweet and heavy. I want more. I want it, but it comes and goes, like her hand. All of this is to say I remember how mother untied my bonnet, stroked my hair, how she tucked a lavender heart pillow where I lay my head. Only later could I say, This happened. Only after we cut long stalks, tied them to rafters to dry upside-down, crushed flowers from stems with a rolling pin to fill sachets with the scent of sleeping. One day, stitching lace to heart’s rim, I had a moment of Oh!: mother’s touch, the lull and lure of drowse, me so little in the cradle I couldn’t know the strange smell’s source. And if I saw something as a baby, it was the same as the singing inside. And if I heard singing, it was as one hears in a dream, a song from faraway, a surge of tides, warm water washing the dreamer the way dusk dims the purple gardens glazing the hills. Mother, lover: lave-moi comme les fleurs ont lavé mes sens. Teach me to bathe in such beauty—

Gillian Cummings‘ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boulevard, Colorado Review, The Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, Front Porch Journal, PANK and other journals. Her chapbook, Spirits of the Humid Cloud, was released last August by dancing girl press. She currently teaches poetry workshops at a hospital and is also a visual artist.