The vapor’s visible and if it penetrates
my lungs , I’ll start to feel better,
menthol soothing like my mother’s
hand or lips on my forehead.
My own touch couldn’t tell anything,
on mine, or anyone else’s head.
These were mommy magic powers
that just needed to be confirmed
once the threat assessed by the shook
down mercury in the thermometer
under my tongue while I tried not to breathe
through my mouth too much.
If I qualified, I’d stay home in bed
read the next Nancy Drew, to be shelved
besides fifty others. Their hard covers
had pictures printed right on them,
no dust jackets to get bent or lost,
leaving just a dusky, old green book
with words on the spine faded to begin with.
Why do I feel my hands getting dusty
when I remember handling these books?
My mother bought them for me new.
Is time seeping through? The inevitable
sorting, carting off to leave the old house bare,
smell of boxes, old books, stronger than Vicks.