blackmail press 40
Miriam Barr
first published issue 18

The fecund people - Andy Leleisi'uao 2014
Lemon Verbena

"Lemon verbena … is a …  perennial shrub….  It prefers full sun, a lot of water, and a light loam soil, and is sensitive to cold." (Wikipedia 04/07)

When i was very small
my mother
smelled of lemon verbena
~ just in  t r a c e s ~

it lingered
on her long fingers,
in her hum, her eyes
in her teeth when she smiled,
in me
~ just traces ~
l e m o n  v e r b e n a.

i remember it.

My mother reads
that skin rashes
are attracted by
feelings of unworthiness.

It rings a bell.

My mother says her mother felt that way too.
I mmmhmmm in agreement down the phone.
Her mother gave it to my mother.
My mother gave it to me.

We hold this between us
like a stone.
A moment glides around it
like water, like eels, like Taniwha.

There is no blame.

It takes time, she says.

I can hear something in her voice
not regret exactly,
but something like it,
there is acceptance
that a mistakeis a mistake.

My mother has made it,
My mother is there.
~ lemon verbena ~

My grandmother takes me to lunch.
What's wrong with your skin?
She quizzes, squinched eye love,
pursed lip.

My grandmother is not.

My grandmother
gave it to my mother
… this feeling.
My mother
gave it to me
… this rash.

But we all have
that faint trace
lemon verbena.