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My Mother the Queen of Moth Balls

Really my mother is moth ball mad;
not just attic or basement but living rooms
too, all receive the treatment:

generous application to stacks
of five for a dollar paperbacks;
liberal coverage of rug scratched

to nap by a train of cats;
periodic replenishment around the chair of a man
recovering from radiation as the Dow flickers by.

The final step, according to the box,
with its six stars circling a delirious moth,
is to hang everything in sunlight, in wind.

This she never does.
A pocket of naphthalene air
follows me as I go to dine

with a gentleman I’d have liked
to know better, if explaining this aura
were not so difficult.

“Life is full of surprises,” my mother says,
“and the older you get,
the more unpleasant they become.”

I open drawers and the smell escapes.
It pervades my lungs, my room,
inner steeples and trembling domes.

Everything else flutters away.