by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro
“You’re rotten, a rotten kid, rotten,
rotten, rotten.” Even in the still photo,
you sense her finger’s menace
as it wags, inches from your nose,
her lipsticked mouth twisted.
She could be the disgruntled fairy
not invited to the christening
who crashes the party, cackles:
“Your daughter will one day prick her finger
and fall down dead.”
But this woman sitting next to you
at the table is your mother
and it’s your Sweet Sixteen.
You’re wearing the green strapless
with the gold flecks and your hair
is piled up into a beehive.
Her spell is already on you. Your face
is white as the dinner napkin, your eyes
glassy as the fluted water glass.
Just one day before, President Kennedy
was killed. You watched on TV
as he slumped sideways in the Lincoln
Continental, eyes closed, hands crossed
as if he was already in his coffin,
and Jackie, your First Lady,
crawling over the back to escape.