Glass Poetry Press

Volume Five Issue Two

Kristina Popiel

Elegy on My Mother's Breast

In the car on the way to the cancer hospital, my mother told us how she had traced the smell to the forgotten picnic basket left over from our family's trip to the beach the summer before. My sisters and I had built sandcastles with spiraling steeples of sodden sand that twisted out of our cupped palms. When the waves swamped our kingdom, we scattered down the beach to gather shells and filled a picnic basket with heavy opalescent conchs — all lustrous pink nacre and milky horn. At the end of the week, my father drove us home singing "Free Bird" as the car's radio played the song. The garage began to smell. The conchs' snails had starved and begun to rot. She had unexpectedly touched the molding, brackish meat within and wept as my father pried them out and dropped each one into the trash — the conchs, as well, too far gone to be salvaged. She got out of the car and stepped into the tide of moonlight that slipped across the black parking lot.