by Sarah Carey

We were told to label our mother’s clothes
to reduce the risk of loss

so all the pieces I retrieved
when she died are marked in permanent ink

as if her smell was not enough to testify
she lived. Nothing fit me but a pair of panties

so I wash and wear her branded intimates
because she taught us to repurpose or reuse.

I think she would approve: her garment
on my body, which from birth she watched

take shape—a familiar resting place
for one small thing she needed that we saved

though she’d say her name on the backside
made her feel like an inmate.

So much more of me than she
hangs over the band

that covered her soft-as-cotton skin
so thin at the end, so fair—

one who never sought the sun,
although she grew up in the Gables,

Coconut Grove. I’ve never burned
the way I burned in Miami,

facing an emerald ocean, flat on my back
for hours after scattering her ashes.

Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, including Accommodations, (2019) winner of the Concrete Wolf Poetry Prize. Find her at and on Twitter @SayCarey1