Female guards search her purse, pat their hands
on her breasts and inner thighs, gentle
but firm, as if sculpting her out of snow.

She flinches, looks a bit suspicious, so they repeat
the process before directing her to the Visitor’s Area
where her son is waiting. A glass window

separates them, reflects her fingers flipping
through Chicks with Guns, Harley Man, magazines
others have left behind. She focuses on the blank area

of each page, not the busty woman busting out
of halter-tops and straddling motorbikes, because
she has nothing to say to her son, never really

had, and she cannot look at him anymore, the face
he grew into, the charming one who convinced
two neighborhood boys to stand behind his idle car,

press their hands against the trunk and rear bumper,
one leaning, one lifting, before he hit the gas
pedal, made the rear tires spin in their direction,

inch toward them, over them. When she thinks
of this she hears their bones’ crack, smells their clothes
burning. She taught him how to drive like some parents

do, but not this, what is seen in movies, overheard
in subways, on buses. Like other mothers,
she has learned to live with it, to move through life

in half-sleep, remember as little as possible
about the trial, the jurors’ eyes on her, pictures of the crime
scene, her son’s need to be nurtured, her not knowing

how. So she focuses on white spaces in magazines where
nothing exists but its emptiness, a place she can lose
herself, pretend none of this has happened, imagine

she is at home watching dinner simmer on the stove,
and her son is in his room, not seated a few feet away
where she senses him watching and waiting.


Copyright © Michael Mastrofrancesco 2002

Appeared in Illya’s Honey


Poetry Sample
Fiction Sample
Still Life
Campfire Girl