Current Issue               Submissions               Round Table






I remember mother's
white pleated skirts
reflected by a glass ball
in fish netting strung
in nicotine taverns of pool
tables and tap beer where
she could hold an audience
with an anecdote though
she always returned home
by herself, like Cinderella.

"A good mother sleeps alone,"
she said. Her trench-coated
suitors wailed at her bedroom
shutters until their voices broke.
Only a mongrel dog got close
enough to hear her whimper
through the damp pillowcase.

When she drank at home
she could quote Shakespeare
after her second beer and
Plato after her third but come
Christmas she broke down
after just one and talked for hours
about the Great Depression.

After her bath
she looked like Nefertiti
with her hair wrapped
in a Turkish towel
while she read David Copperfield
like a missal, her legs clasped
beneath her.

Scotch replaced the beer so slowly
no one noticed until the night
she drove her Ford into Green Lake.
Police fished her out
and sent her home, remanded
to her children's care.

She slipped through our fingers
like water seeking stone,
hiding the Scotch under her mattress,
drinking alone. If she wandered
into the living room,
we pretended not to notice.

When they let us visit
she cowered in the hospital dayroom,
and well-trained by then,
we ignored her gauze-wrapped wrists.
We told her she was a good mother
and would soon be coming home.

      — Teresa White