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MAY DAY BECOMES YOU, IT GOES WITH YOUR HAIR
by Joan Jobe Smith

Sometimes I feel my mother is still alive, like five
minutes ago when I wanted to show her my
new silk blouse, ask her how she likes it, tell her how
I had her in mind when I picked it out because she
always liked me wearing white, said I looked so nice
and clean. (Remember how your mother liked
to keep you nice and neat?) And when I shook myself
back to Now, realized she’d been dead nearly 30 years,
I could hardly believe it, because I’d felt her so near
and real as this silk upon my skin, felt the air around me
turn as warm as the sweet of her breath when she
smiled because I looked so clean in this white blouse.
(Remember how your mother’s lips were naturally pink
as May Day azalea?) For years after she died, every day at
four o’clock in the afternoon, no matter where I was:
at work, on the freeway to L.A., a train to London or
crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge, I’d jolt a four-
o’clock horror that I’d forgotten to take her the morphine
she needed by 4:15 or she’d tremble with seizure and pain
as she lay dying upon her mattress grave. But today, May Day,
at 4:35 when she saw me white and nice in this white blouse
she didn’t hurt anyplace anymore when she reached
quick butterfly from far away and touched my cheek.

PAINTING: “The Redhead in a White Blouse” by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1889).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. In November 2012, Silver Birch Press published her literary profile entitled Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me), available at Amazon.com. Her writing is featured in the May 2014 release LADYLAND, an antholology of writing by American women (13e note éditions, Paris).