Of the Hand that Made Me

Patrice Boyer Claeys

In a dream
she’s just as she was then,
and I am doing laundry, the basement windows
with matted cobwebs,
on each counter and shelf, dust
and not enough air.

In our family room
my mother laughs.
I reconstruct her,
her sorrow and pleasure equally manifest,
a part of her always
rolling cookie dough into orbs,
wanting to be sure
she would teach us to be the mother.

Her chewing red mouth,
which grieving will not sweeten,
twitched into a mosaic,
all broke           and scattered           and shimmered.

It’s the oldest form of love—
a history encoded in our flesh which fastens us to the earth
under the stone, under the bone,
where sky and ocean meet
in her silver absence.

Cento Sources:  Michael Gould, Marcene Gandolfo, Aviya Kushner, Will Durham, Geoff Anderson, Owen McLeod, Marion Starling Boyer, Francesca Bell, Steven Sanchez, Cory Hutchinson-Reuss, Amie Whittemore, Lauren Goodwin Slaughter, Kirk Schlueter, John Amen, Benjamin Garcia, Tara E. Jay, Jill Khoury, Xiaoly Li, Kelly R. Samuels, Wendy Cannella, Andrew Collard, KB Ballentine, Peter Munro, Penelope Scambly Schott


Patrice Boyer Claeys graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Manchester, U.K., and completed a Certificate in Poetry from the Writer’s Studio of the University of Chicago. Her first collection, Lovely Daughter of the Shattering was published by Kelsay Books in 2019. Forthcoming work: Literary Mama, Pirene’s Fountain and Aeolian Harp Anthology 5. Her second collection, The Machinery of Grace, is due from Kelsay Books. She was nominated for Best of the Net.