FEATURED POEM: MEE OK ICARO, Winner of the Prufer Poetry Prize
they find her shivering stained t-shirt over wild bare legs in an alley my mother’s body in the shape of unknown food chewed by a scatter of teeth I never saw her mud-matted fishing-wire hair but my brother offers to send me the picture he took of her when he showed up like a heart attack that day that gathered into years when she was lost a child with the senior’s special schrödinger’s mom dead (not dead) her missing body chiseled to ice under a bridge every time it snowed No I hear myself say leave me my memories of her before she ate dumpsters without underwear spare me the mouth that once spun my lullabies when she was all bare-footed earth-skulled lunulae I have so little little girl in me left my mother knew my name the one she gave me talked to me same as her father gone ten years now seen him last week in her ceiling I need to tell grandpa the birds oh I forget their names are waiting for their packages of weather and string and blue china dishes the ones we use on easter he knows the one I am with you now, mother, feeding you five cheese ziti from olive garden while a woman frothing at the head rocks and screams your broken stare two eyes two punched out windows one for each vanished son you hallucinate the only way to get them to visit you ice in my sockets melting down my cheeks I leave you in a confusion happier than truth punch the code steel doors open leads to the first thread of hallways past motionless wheelchairs bouquets of piss neurotic light bulbs flickering dark in this cement palace where you will die in the corner next to a phone that never rings a folder squeezing a single slip of paper with my name date and time in small handwriting that proves that yes, mommy I saw you a woman in muted scrubs asks me if I am your daughter tells me you are her favorite that you write me letters backwards in the swatch of window near your bed because you say I live in the tree outside your forever room you write to me like a child on a fogged car window messages to a passing stranger speeding down an unpainted highway because grandpa visits you in the sky but I, I live in your tree
Mee Ok Icaro is an award-winning literary prose stylist and occasional poet. She is the winner of the inaugural Prufer Poetry Prize, runner-up in the Prairie Schooner Creative Nonfiction Contest, and a finalist for the Scott Merrill Award for poetry as well as the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in the LA Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Georgia Review, Massachusetts Review, Bennington Review, River Teeth, Michael Pollan’s “Trips Worth Telling” anthology, and elsewhere. She is also featured in [Un]Well on Netflix and is attempting to write a memoir. Find her at Mee-ok.com.