Half-awake yet still sleeping, I’m haunted

by thoughts of my mother


to whom I had never paid much attention

when she was alive. It’s as if


I’m seeing her for the first time:

the month she lay in bed, her body


swollen with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

or scleroderma or something


the doctors weren’t sure of, the finger

she would press into her own flesh,


its indention remaining long

minutes afterward; how she’d take


a tiny loud first sip from every beverage

as if testing its vintage, the floppy straw hats


she favored, the strappy sandals

she purchased and then would take back


feeling guilty for wanting something

so delicate; how when she walked


her hips swayed like Sophia Loren’s,

my father once said; and how she’d spend


an hour or more browsing

the book section at Walmart, reading


the last few pages of the paperback

romances she might buy, as if


every ending weren’t the same, but some,

she’d explain,

are happier than others.


Sarah Wetzel is the author of River Electric with Light, which won the AROHO Poetry Publication Prize and was published by Red Hen Press in 2015, and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and was published in 2010. Sarah is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York and, whenever possible, teaches creative writing at The American University of Rome.

Table of Contents | Next Page