The kitchen smells of cabbage and quiet.
On the table a jigsaw puzzle,
the Basilica di San Marco
whose four hundred pieces my mother sorts
into straight edges, corners, colours,
greys, blues, blue-greens.
I tell her I’ve seen the holy relics,
bones of saints, a vial with the blood of Christ
“I should have saved mine,” she says
referring to her left kidney, the cancerous one
she’s convinced is living healthy
in somebody else’s body.
I imagine her bringing the bean-shaped organ home,
its dark-red bulge against the weathered yellow of her palm,
her forefinger probing the renal pelvis. I imagine her
inserting aromatic cloves, pickling it in a Mason jar.
“I’ll never feel whole again.”
The words are as much for her as for me.
She works on the puzzle’s frame: bones fitting
bones. This can be read as a holding place.
The wind pelts snowflakes against the darkened window.
Snow weighs down the roof.
The Grand Canal begins to flow along the puzzle’s edge.
The house tabby abhors water, climbs into her lap.