Traveling with my Mother

I was sick, more or less, for the whole trip,
and so she got to know the pharmacists
of Venice, claiming it would help to sip
Coca-Colas in cafés, while mists

rolled in like squabbling cats. We squabbled too,
as I threw fits—and luggage—on a bridge,
groaning and arguing as her silence grew.
Which of us could bear the heavier grudge?

Like Proustmaman, she stayed in when I prowled
the alleyways at night, making a point
of waiting, lit up in the window, gold
and fractured as mosaics of a saint,

a saint who bitches, patroness of huffs.
We quibbled on the water-bus we rode
along the canyon of pink marble cliffs,
her cane tapping the boats deck as we stood.

Its hard to translate the unhappiness
of others, even when you learn to spot
a parents fluttering signals of distress:
all hostile flags at which I had to shoot.

Forgetting our quarrels, she calls the visit “grand.”
I like remembering the day she sat
by a bridge, smiling from sky to tree to ground,
letting wind muss her hair, not smoking, quiet.