Arlene Ang
In the Company of One

The cookies on the table are brittle
with visions. There's a sleep pattern
in the swirl of smoke rising from
a cappuccino, its froth a cluster
of black holes, hollow blocks

that crumble while my mother stirs
quietly with a fork. She forgets
last year's newspaper on her lap.
It is turned to the last page,

the milk stains on the obituaries
like regular Rorschach blots.
In winter, the kitchen windows
steam as water boils itself

to white rings inside the pan.
The level is not always the same.
Overhead a fly buzzes. She says
it's a storm brewing, the tulips

in the garden will be shredded
by rain, the petals arrowed to
Madagascar, her hands caught in
the weathervane the way my sneakers

used to twirl on the clothesline.
Afterwards I drink from her cold
mug, listen to the sound of steps
around the apartment, from bathroom

to hallway, living room then back
again. A vacancy sign lights her eyes.
She is the woman in the other room,
the door a ceramic jar with cracks
around the roses, the lid jammed tight.