maria barnas
poetry

CHANGING ROOMS
MAASVLAKTE 05

WHERE IS MY MOTHER?
WHERE IS SHE IN ALL OF THIS?
I WENT LOOKING FOR HER IN RIMINI.
I WAS THREE.

SHE NOW LIVES CLOSE TO THE SEA IN BRITTANY
WITH MY DAD. THEY ARE VERY CLOSE
TO THE SEA IN A PLACE THAT THEY LIKE
BECAUSE IT IS QUIET.

I NEVER FOUND HER.
I ASKED FOR HER EVERYWHERE.
LOOKED UNDER TOWELS AND UMBRELLAS
EMBRACED THE WRONG KNEES.

I WAS SURE I WOULD COME ACROSS HER
TALKING TO STRANGERS
WRAPPED IN MOTIONLESS TIGERS
SMILING DOLPHINS AND MERMAIDS.

STRANGERS START TALKING TO MY MOTHER
AT THE BUS STOP, IN CHANGING ROOMS
CONFIDING LIVES IN HER
DEEP SORROW AND SHALLOW DEATH.

MY MOTHER LISTENS AND NODS AT THE RIGHT MOMENT
FOR PEOPLE TO LET THE STORIES GO.
SHE NEVER COMMENTS.
SHE JUST SITS THERE AND UNDERSTANDS.
MAKES ALL STILLNESS FLOW.

SHE FOUND ME
SITTING ON A HIGH STOOL IN A YELLOW TENT FOR THE LOST.
THE PLACE WAS CROWDED WITH US
LOST AND RED-CHEEKED, SMELLY CHILDREN
AND ONE TALL, OLD MAN.
HIS WHITE LEGS LIKE TWIGS IN HIS SHORTS.
WE WERE FED CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM.

THE OLD MAN CRIED FOR HIS MOTHER.
HE CRIED AND CRIED AND KEPT US VERY QUIET.