Friday Poem

Visiting My Mother’s Wars

My father has taken to dosing my mother with melatonin at night.
Or she would rise at 3 to watch TV and later, after dinner, not know him.

My mother stands pointing at all the flowers gone to the deer;
look at that, they took everything, all of it, even that,
she pokes one final time at a bed of moss roses.

She calls me to the vegetable garden, protected by chicken wire
and points look at that, nothing is growing this year,
it’s awful then tears out the cucumber.

Later, hands on hips, where’s your father? “In the garage,” I say
and her eyes narrow, and suspicious, she calls upstairs,
Bob?! You up there? Bob? He’s always disappearing.

She sits in front of a stack of books, Ugh, there are no good
books anymore. I don’t like any of these, none of them,
even the authors I used to love. What’s for dinner? Soup?

What’s for dinner? I look up from my book, “I think Dad is grilling.”
He thinks he’s boss now. She sits on the couch, arms folded,
What’s for dinner? I can defrost Minestrone.

When she’s not looking, I replant the cucumbers and point,
“Look at how good they are doing, it’s only June.”
My father secretly checks and double checks the stove.

After I’m gone, my mother tells my father that her ex-husband loved cars
and his garage was filled with them. He takes her hand,
says, “That’s me. I’m the only one.”

by E.A. Wilberton
from Rattle #75, Spring 2022