Jigsaw Puzzles
by Wilda Morris
            Beginning with a line by Dorianne Laux

We put the puzzle together piece
by interlocking piece. Over the years,
we’ve assembled the colors and shapes
from so many boxes–
landscapes, clocks, butterflies, birds–
we no longer marvel at how they adhere
with no glue. When I give up finding
the French braid or buggy wheel,
I show Mother the spot I want to fill.
She scans the table, points to the right piece,
the one I searched fifteen minutes for.

Mother’s life is becoming a puzzle
she can’t sort out. Memories no longer adhere
to dates or faces. Today, she forgets my name
though she knows she named me.
She doesn’t remember my sister’s gone
for groceries, forgets my brother called
this morning. We no longer work
1,000 piece puzzles; it’s hard enough
for her to piece together
this one puzzling afternoon.

Searching ancestry.com, my niece finds
a marriage application from Mother
and my birth father, a man I never knew.
It has taken a long time to find it.
Mother used a nickname she’s never been called;
he used the surname of the aunt who raised him,
not his own. Mother is dead, so I cannot ask why.
I try to puzzle it out, piece by piece.
But I can’t.


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