Poetry from Zann Carter

Photo by Jorge Lopez

Alzheimer’s Purse 

Mama holds it like a baby, a weapon, a secret. She hides it, then forgets where. She fills it with talcum powder and dollar bills. She tries to sleep with it under her pillow, wedges it between mattress and box springs, pushes it behind the toaster. The search for her purse is unending. It is black, lined in red, the mouth of a dragon. It burns her hand. Mice nest in it and bite her head as she sleeps. The wound never heals. She demands to see doctors long dead. Her purse tells her fortune and it is bad. It spits out the Death card and the Tower Struck By Lightning. It opens like a flower. Her hand is caught in it and stung by bees. The purse mutters. It accuses her of infidelity then sings her a lullaby. Mama’s purse loves her the way a bully loves his victims.
And she loves it the way addicts hate their addictions.

Today these things are in her purse: an empty typewriter ribbon tin   a kitchen timer   a map of Peru   diaper pins   a thimble one glove   a letter from 1945

In dreams, the purse is a portal to her father’s flower farm and purple fields of iris. In nightmares, it lines her up and shoots her down. Sometimes it’s a stranger’s purse and the contents terrify. It makes her cry more than I do. She searches it for her medium beige Max Factor pancake makeup, convinced it was stolen. She begs me to buy her more. They sell it as “vintage” on ebay for $119.00. Mama’s purse is her shield and her curse. Her world fits in it and in it her world ends.

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Zann Carter plays with words and fiber in Terre Haute, IN, where she hosts a monthly open mic now in its 9th year. Her work has been published in Sagewoman, Dirty Chai, Misfit Magazine, Witches & Pagans and Dream Pop Press, as well as Atlas & Alice #6. Her website: www.zanncarter.com

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