All Those Inuit Names for Snow
by Tom Tempkin

My mother is watching her mother die.
Gravity has declared war against the lower lip.
Salt has worn to fine gauze the threads

sprouting from the inner ear. For each one
that goes, we must learn a new word
for what we think life is, what we dream

it will be. Among our tricks and screams
and flowered boudoirs, we must all wear once
the wedding gown stained with mother’s blood

or dance the implicit waltz while meandering
to victory with a swollen hand.
I will feed the cat when you’re gone.

This is my promise.
The first one to wake whispers to the other:
poinsetta, aspen, sweet fig, dream of orchid, rose.

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