I stole quarters from my mother
the way we end up       stealing all things
from our mothers.    I shuffled them

in my pocket, thumbing        George
Washington’s swollen face. I sweat

onto the clad ridges—my pillowy      fists

listless against too-     stiff denim. I liked

the weight                 of them: $3 cylindered
into the valley of my cupped fingers. I walked

half a mile to the carnival,     kicking gravel
into the backs of my sneakers. The wall neon-ed
at me in block letters: “TATTOOED

LADY!”. The bikini cartoon     leered: both
her eyes & the eyes of the python emblazoned
on her. I gave     my money to the aftershave
man. He laughed,      pressed

three quarters back      into my palm, pointed
to the numbers underneath her designed bottom. [ONLY
$2.25!] I crept into the room,      which was hot

& smelled like cows & she wasin the corner
in a chair.      She was so old

I couldn’t make out the snake— her tattoos bled
into one another     like rain      -ruined chalk
drawings: mermaids              & skulls huddled together,
abraded. She was still            in the same bikini

as her picture.      She smiled. Her technicolor

skin sagged toward the ground:     the earth
trying to pull her                           back into it.


Photo By: Jlhopgood