Two Poems

Selima Hill

Upstairs, in the heat, beside the handkerchiefs,
my mother’s navy-blue horsehair mattress

still, although it’s August, smells of damp,
of horses in the hush of damp forests,

of Spassky, still a child, playing chess
all day long, with nobody, in silence –

Spassky, whose seductive ingenuity
my mother has no need to understand.

The eerie bittern – this may sound unfair –
spends her days pretending to be reeds

and people think she’s sulking, but she’s not,
she’s like my mother: sunlight gives her headaches.