Dorothea Fisher (1916-2006) — Ashley Moor

I was born
backwards.
I was raised in a place
with no name
but I can still find it on a map.
The first words I wrote
as a child
were of Dorothea’s
funeral procession
and the brown linoleum
on her kitchen floor.
Now, I can’t seem to remember
her hands.
She grew up slow,
sifting the dirt with her hands.
Time moved against her
so gently.
Dorothea wasn’t scared
of the wind.
Dorothea died
two months before her 90th birthday.
I shut my eyes and smell
the rain from her front porch.
I close my eyes
to feel the open windows
of my childhood.
I remember buying ice cream
on the first day of Spring
at the cafe close by.
Why do we run from
what we know?
I want to find
all of the years
I misplaced under my fingernails.
I want to see
Dorothea standing in the kitchen.
I want to see
my mother happy.
Childhoods
lay dormant as death
but I have faith
that they find us
eventually—
face down in the debt we owe—
dark, dim,
hungry for summer.
I believe in the reincarnation
of Dorothea
because I have found myself again
in her ghost.
I found the South
embedded in the spine
and scripture of poetry,
back porches,
pink houses,
love on an acre of bones.
I stay up late
to write myself into the arms
of an existence like the one
of Dorothea.