My mother’s sense of direction
is thrift store based.
If there’s a Goodwill nearby,
she will find it. Whatever it is.
And if there is no Goodwill,
there’s a chance
she will tell you
to turn right when she means left
or when you tell her to turn left
she will turn right
into Taco Bell and ask
if you’ve tried the potato soft taco.
My mother will pass
the brown paper bag to you
and tell you, I’m vegan-ish
now. Years of practice
applying mascara and lipstick
while driving to church,
she makes eating a soft taco
at the steering wheel
seem natural. My mother explains,
I read there’s a connection
between dairy and breast cancer.
Her hair is still growing back.
Bits of potato and lettuce
fall to the wrapper
placed on her lap as she scans
the side of the road
for discarded furniture. My mother
will slow to window shopping pace
and if the table or chair or shelf
looks sturdy or like real wood,
like something valuable, she’ll pack it up
into the trunk or the backseat. Wherever
it fits. She’ll say, It’s got good bones.
Just needs a fresh coat of paint. My mother
turns the carport into an audience
of empty chairs
ready to be painted. Before that
primed. Before that
stripped bare. My mother
sends before and after pictures.
Didn’t I do a good job? she asks.
I tell her yes every time
because her mother never did
or didn’t mean it. My mother
scoops up so much unwanted
and convinces herself it’s wanted.