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Jim Daniels: My Security Question

remains: mother’s birthplace
the answer remains: Detroit
my birthplace too.

My mother’s remains 
sit in a box on her closet floor 
in Detroit.

User i.d./password/security 
question/ to get into
my account.

My father’s saving money
by waiting to die
so they only have to open up

the mausoleum once
for both of them.
The closet in her room

remains as she left it
clothes losing their dark 
interest. Ghosts in the dust. 

No one picking 
outfits for the blind lady anymore.
Every time I log in, I remember 

her offering money every time
I saw her near the end
in case I needed it

for something special.
Though she had none 
to give. I’d exchange looks

with my father 
or hand gestures above 
her sleek black wheelchair.

I like songs that build into a frenzy
my mother never forgot the old hymns
or the man who abused her as a child

spilling the beans before she died
spilling her Dad’s Root Beer
her last addiction.

So what if it made her pee
into her De-Pends? If you’re a sissy
you can leave now

take the rattling bag of recyclables
to the curb on your way out.
Hey Mom, tell Dad to let us bury you
 
now, or do you like the smell 
of your old dresses and coats as much 
as I do. We never figured out

how to get your talking watch
to shut up. I’m logging in—
Detroit—see how much/little 
I’ve saved for this rainy day? 

Who could have predicted
this weather? Anyone want 
some blind lady’s clothes?

A little too bright
for anyone with sight.
They lit up the darkness

of her fading memory
her ashes in my box
of passwords. 

We can’t be too careful
with our dead. She lived 
on the short end of the stick

and she never had a password
in her life. I want to change
my security question

or the truth, or our place of birth.
Cold down in that closet
heater vents flipped closed

no password for the crypt
I will change my security question
to the city in which I was born.

Will the bank notice, tell me I can’t 
change it to what it already is?
Where is my mother’s change purse

the one that looked like a flower
and bloomed with silver and copper
her careful hands at the dime store

handing it over
for whatever I wanted
in Detroit?


Copyright 2022 Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels‘s many collections of poetry include Gun/Shy (Wayne State University Press, 2021). He lives in Pittsburgh where he taught at Carnegie Mellon University as the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English. 

credit: Etienne-girardet on Upsplash

3 comments on “Jim Daniels: My Security Question

  1. Mark Wangberg
    June 2, 2022

    Wonderful poem Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loranneke
    June 2, 2022

    The sorrow in that poem!

    Liked by 3 people

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2022 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry, spirituality and tagged , , , , , , .

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