Campfire by Chelsea Dappen

The mother keeps the TV burning
in the corner of the living room.
The heat felt through our clothes
colors our skin a deeper shade of blood.
We are told to contribute something
to the fire. A gummy bear, a shoe.
Everything we have we’ll one day lose
says Mother. We roast marshmallows by the light
the screen shines on us. We make Mother
a marshmallow necklace from the last ones
we have left. She will treasure this necklace
she tells us, stuffing it into a drawer. The TV
singes our foreheads with the world’s news.
I prefer the stories about marshmallows
to the stories about amputees.

The mother tries to keep us warm
inside her fur-lined coat. I wedge my arm
into the socket of her polyester sleeve
and feel, under my skin, how cold she is.
Mother informs us ice has been forming
inside her bones, her body no longer
responds to the heat. She instructs us to keep
ourselves safe from the cold. To hold on
with our hands, to her bones. To remember
that she will always, in our bones, remain
our mother. We have no choice in this world.