Edge of Glass
My mother bites the edge of fine blown glass,
crunches fragments in her teeth and swallows them.
Cool, smooth and delicate. Like dangerous ribbon candy.
She is a small, thin child, sepia-skinned, dark
hollow eyes with reflections of long-dead faces.
She scuffs her knees roller-skating, metal skates
on bumpy sidewalks from home to Grandmother's.
Yesterday, a match fell into the wastebasket.
The kitchen went up in flames.
She turns a Tootsie-Roll in her mouth as she skates,
chocolate honey-syrup darkens her tongue.
Sometimes, there is a large, strange bow at her throat
or perched on her head. Her dress is polka-dotted,
gingham, flowered, devoid of color.
Other times, the skate key bangs on a cord
No one seems to notice as she grows smaller
and smaller. Fades. Wrinkles around the edges.
Tonight, she turns another glass in her teeth.
Half a house burns from her dreams.
Tomorrow, she may disappear entirely.
Mary Stebbins Taitt
published in The Women Artist's Datebook