Visiting Mother in Prison
Poem by Megan Mealor
Joanna drew a blunting breath,
replacing the clangorous cloister
of overflowing gray daughters
and brusque, fidgety fathers
with larkspur, barnacle geese,
blue jacaranda branches
secreting Jamaican sky.
Her verbose cadmium curls
reeled like nerveless seaweed
in a structural current,
the homegrown hemline
of her modish Mimi sheath
far too far above her knees.
Ever-blushing brittle brink pink,
she detained it firmly at her sides,
barring the winking leers
from yellow-eyed yardbirds
as she shadowed verbatim perimeters,
at last coming to an infertile room
teeming with thorny prisoners,
their sugar daddies and saviors and sons.
Jane, Joanna’s primordial creator,
was recycled in Safety Orange striations,
all cyber lemon braid and
birthday card glitter gloss,
a plagiarized prom princess,
slurs of coffee fringing carob eyes.
Joanna studied this ill-starred internee,
noting her pyretic pallor,
a fellow inmate’s caper of a shag cut,
wilted bruising festering on forearms.
Jane had grown a groundless aura,
a provoked heartbeat wound too sternly.
Cigarette tottering in hand, she jimmied
her rawboned leg as she staunchly refuted
bludgeoning Grandma Beatrice over
twenty-six dollars and some nickels,
a Swiss bells hand-cranked music box
intended for Joanna and her daughters,
gift cards to cafes, aquariums, zoos,
an archaic autograph ensemble comprising
Elvis thrusting, Nefertiti-esque Capucine,
impish Marilyn in her maidenly debut,
the rushed renaissance of Vivien Leigh,
faceted imprints of Dolores del Rio’s hellfire.
Jane even absconded with Bea’s bootless tokens:
glass-blown pet hair memorial lockets;
a derelict photo album showcasing shots of
Grandpa Joe, rest his fool’s gold soul,
and Little Ray, who every year passed out
stolen Christmas presents like cashmere,
rhinestone clutches, chronographs spun of
titanium, black gold, ivory faces.
Joanna was so tired of the undying tether
of safe harbors, existing on charity, pity pennies,
And so she had levitated and scaled her way
through degrees, appetites, backings, headways,
clawing out her name in big wigs’ bones.
Joanna tuned out Jane’s rhetorical discursive,
dreaming of that felicitous slice of peach pie
tarrying in her little formstone rowhouse in East Bank
facing the Kanawha River’s black earth burial mounds.
About the writer
Megan Denese Mealor is a double Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been featured in numerous journals, most recently The Opiate, Maudlin House, The Metaworker, The Ministry of Poetic Affairs, and Harbinger Asylum. Her debut poetry collection, Bipolar Lexicon, is forthcoming in October from Unsolicited Press. She serves as a reader for E&GJ Press. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her teens, Megan’s mission is to inspire others stigmatized for their mental health. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her partner of six years, their four-year-old son, and two mollycoddled cats. Her loves include alligators, air hockey, astrology, snorkeling, gardening, and calligraphy.