Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Mother at Seventy-Three

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Mother at Seventy-Three

Article excerpt

Mother takes her teeth out

and then comes in to see if I still love her.

Barefoot, she walks across our hall, pulling

the ties of her pink tumble-down bathrobe.

She stands angled in my doorway. She's watching me.

"I took my teeth out," she says, narrowing her eyes.

I give her back nothing but a fixed smile.

She sniffs. "Someday," she says, "you, too,

will have to take your teeth out."

She pats her hair. It is the color of

moonshine. She told me so.

This time, Mother brought me pink rubrum lilies,

plunged into a yellow bucket. They bounced

in the car all the way up the New Jersey Turnpike.

She brought a Smithfield ham and bourbon.

She sips the bourbon in my garden

and tells my little girl, "Listen, you -

Aging is very strange. Do you think I

feel the way I lookT My little girl thinks,

then shakes her head. Mother says

"Of course not. …

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