“The Godmother Limit” by Mary Alexandra Agner.

What would you give up
for someone else’s happy-ever-after?
Black dress, first kiss, your sister’s
tears of joy which stained your shirt
when she gave birth? Crone magic
mines memories for energy
and burns them up like fireworks.

Sometimes the nicer girls send postcards.
And, in an idle moment,
when I stumble on a hole
where I once held someone I loved,
I try to put the picture there instead:
the same East European castle
from a different angle as the years go by:
white, sun bleached, then overgrown.
My past reduces to vast panoramas,
cinematic, wide-screen, empty of people.

Tonight I stand in my front hall,
wand in hand and a stack of canceled sheets
that wish me well clutched in the other.
What had I meant to do?
There’s a girl out there who calls to me,
her dreams and hopes the hardest tug I’ve ever felt.
My joints crack as I turn the doorknob,
pull, and step out into twilight.

All I have left is the image of my mother
leaning over to pin my corsage carefully
above my breast. She kisses me.
Anything could happen.

All I have left is resonance
with a young girl’s dreams.
The harder she might wish, the harder
I will fight to feel the same.

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