The well-meaning say that the dead 
are still here, living on in our hearts, 
and during certain gullible moments 
I believe them. I imagine my mother 
in one of her handmade dresses 
sitting down on the purple rim
of my heart, kicking up her feet
like a schoolgirl. Maybe I am even 
becoming one of the well-meaning, 
falling into hope, metamorphosing 
into that plucky optimist
who has always annoyed me.
Maybe I’ll be the smiling girl
in pink lipstick and sweet perfume, 
the first one to lean toward you
the Monday after you’ve buried 
someone you can’t live without
to whisper in your ear, She’s with you 
still, just listen. I have touched
my dead mother in dreams —
her plump shoulder against
my own. She tells me how to live, 
assures me the blue couch
was a good choice. Still, listening
is not enough, and there are steps
she will not take without two feet. 
I want my mother to step out
of my heart, to propel herself off 
from my ribs and out of my skin.
I want her to take up space and air 
in my car, smooth her dress
with both palms, adjust her legs
in the passenger seat. At dinner
I want to nudge her thigh
under the table when she 
embarrasses me in front 
of someone new. Tonight
I’m mashing potatoes for my love,
understanding that it is his body 
I’m cooking for — his belly
and lips and tongue, his fingertips 
and knees, the scent of his neck,
each salty inch of skin. It is his body
I miss when later, after too much
red wine, he bends away from me, 
wanting only to pee, swinging one leg 
over the bed, and how quickly
I miss that one leg, then the other, 
then all of him.