francine j. harris

enough food and a mom

The dad. body has just enough gravy on his plate to sop up one piece of bread.

So, enough for one supper, says the mom. She comes back to him, says

don’t argue with mom, you’re a ghost. There’s enough water around to drown a cob

in its husk. in a dad. He puts up weather stripping all night. to keep out the mom. He says


I should have cooked for you more. She thinks she could make her own insulin.

to keep herself from going into dad.


She says I should have married a ghost. says: You have a little

raisin on your lip. a little. The mom says stop all that quiet, it’s foolish. Come on

now, dad. come to ghost. says the ghost.


I won’t even warn the mom. I won’t even flinch if the ghost tries to hold her mom. After all,

a good séance starts with enough food and a mom. The ghost with a biscuit in meat. The

mom with the smell of cracked dad. sucked out of oxygen. The mom is

a smell of wrecked vines.


                                           You, the dad. with no teeth. And no, (the mom)

is a garden full of ghost. No. says the dad: lost in ashes.


No city is complete. its own worst ghost. who can’t even remember the ghost

now, the ghost says: All your selves know, now. They ghost

ike the bushel of a snowflower.


Everyone is dead. now. says, the ghost. The mom is a yard of blackening petals.


At night, I have really long dads. Without the ghosts, I wake in a puddle of ghost.

But you’ll be mom one day. to know I am alive. We are all sappy dad, aren’t

  1. Tell the ghost, it’s ok. Let the bodies lie ghost for awhile.


I mom of you. I mom of you a lot.



“enough food and a mom” first appeared in Poetry, 2014, and is from play dead (Alice James Books, 2016).