Silver — by Jer Xiong

for my mother

like when your friend passed away,
your girlfriend since refugee camp days.
you flew to Wisconsin, where she lived,
arriving on charcoal lanes, eyes closed.
they removed the metal from her body,
her gold necklace, her silver crowns,
so nothing would weigh her down
when she joins the ancestors.

like the big pots for sauce or making stew,
scrubbed clean for years to look brand new.
when I burned the bottom,
you berated me, eyes opened.
mom, I have grown into a woman,
someone unknown to you now.
so you stare at me with knitted brows
like I am a forgotten stranger.

like when I used a tweezer to pull your hair,
all those thin silver ones, your bald spot bare.
when my hand ached,
you did it yourself, eyes searching.
I told you they were normal,
the silver is inevitable.
you were vulnerable, seemingly surprised,
suddenly lined with age.