After My Mother Dies, I Crave the Seventies by Nicole Cooley

First the foods. Deviled eggs scattered with paprika. A bloody
mary, celery stuck in the center of the glass. A cheese log
studded with cloves. Bowl of green goddess dressing. All of the decade’s
weird nourishment, foods I never ate as a child. Yet now I ache stupidly
for the cold orb of that egg, its shirred and dusted yolk. And then I want
to go running in the New Orleans park with a Walkman, sweaty Styrofoam
slipping from my ears, rectangular weight in my hand. I want to dial
a rotary phone and call my mother back. And when I find her–
she and I will watch Klute and Midnight Cowboy together
on our fiberglass green and yellow couch. Crave:
from the Old English, meaning, ask, implore, demand by right.
My mother and I are back at the Winn Dixie on the highway and she
is younger than I am now and I am asking for a mood ring
from the gumball machine. Crave: perhaps related to craft;
in its base sense of “power.” And now I want my mother to be
my sister which is ridiculous as I have a sister and I am raising two sisters
in my other life as a mother. Meanwhile I am back in our living room
in New Orleans and my mother and I are shoving
the particle board bookcases against the wall and flipping open
our TAB cans. I want my cheap acrylic turtleneck back, I want
my IBM selectric to type my middle school papers. My Betamax. My
8 track tapes. My early Billy Joel. After we rearrange the living room
in the hopes of changing our lives,, my mother and I fold
a paper fortuneteller together and I quiz her—yes, no, maybe.
She gives no good answers. But after all she is back from the dead.
In the other world, which is this one, my daughters have the box
of my parents’ Ouija board and are scooting the planchette
over cardboard, late at night, while my husband and I sleep
upstairs. Crave: to long for, eagerly desire; to ask very earnestly.
Deviled eggs were first made in ancient Rome where it was said,
From eggs to apples. meaning from a beginning to its end,
in the course of a meal. Eggs the color of the couch my mother
and I sat on when I believed she would never die.
Nicole Cooley is the author of six books of poems, most recently Of Marriage (Alice James Books 2018) and Of Marriage (Louisiana State University Press, 2017). She is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College-City University of New York.