In my dreams my mother keeps walking out of the kitchen singing,
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

She never sings past the first verse.

Last night I dreamed I was back at the house —
every light on when I arrived. My mother, forgetting

she was dead, smiled, said she was fine, everything
was fine. At family gatherings — weddings, baptisms —

my mother would look around, sort of stunned,
and say: There’re so many of you! As if

we’d arrived from someplace other than her
own body, a country foreign to her. My mother

is no longer flesh or breath. She’s not a thing
anymore. Is she with God?

Some days I believe, some days I don’t.
Centuries ago, in a church in Europe,

someone carved God Help Us into a pew.
Plague years. Sometimes my God is so big,

I wonder what’s the use. Divinity
diluted into nothingness. My mother

tried to stop drinking. I stopped, she told me once.
Like you’d stop a dryer or a washing machine.

We were standing in Blackwater Falls Gift Shop,
looking at coffee mugs printed with maps.

West Virginia on one side, waterfalls on the other.
One mug had a gold star to mark the visitor center.

You Are Here, it said on a travel mug. Here and
not here. How do you name what isn’t here?

She tried to stop. And didn’t.