Toni Thomas’s “My Mother’s Body Turns Traitor on Her” first appeared in Issue 71/72 (Winter/Spring 2009) of the minnesota review. Since then, Thomas has published two chapbooks, Walking on Water and Fast as Lightning, which won the 2010 Gribble Press Poetry Competition. Her poetry collection Chosen was a finalist in the 2010 Brick Road Poetry Press competition, and two additional full length manuscripts were finalists for the Anhinga Poetry Prize, the May Swenson Poetry Award, and the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize. Thomas lives in Oregon with her family and likes to contemplate the moon from her bed.
My Mother’s Body Turns Traitor on Her
til she doesn’t recognize herself anymore
curtains the bathroom mirror
scissors herself out of family photograph albums.
What will she do with the remainder
of her life now that the
hourglass of curves have turned
into grapefruits of discontent?
Some might say she has
fudge marbled her life away
given into dissolution, wrinkles
How can I tell you about loss
the way it eats heathen street shoes
the way loneliness dwarfs the tongue
and courage can be a secret pact that keeps
a family stick pinned together
on heavy knees
the way time sometimes slays the voice
sets up a graveyard we start
to live in.
Over time my mother’s body turned
traitor on her.
It was my childhood.
A sadness I watched with a rapt tongue.
But in the sum of a life
there are more terrible
than this one.