Passing It On
Mother Gathers up the breakfast dishes,
Sweeps toast crumbs into her hand,
Talks to herself aloud, as if she were alone.
Whatever she is saying must be bad;
dread runs through my body. I babble,
but it has no effect.
She runs to the bathroom, sobs aloud,
then returns without a word, to sweep
Mother Asks Me to Brush Her Hair
I’m about six and still believe
it’s in my power to make her day
though all of her days were made
long before I held a brush to one
so when she pulls it out of my hand,
and says, Don’t bother, it’s hopeless,
I learn it’s not in me to be the artist.
Every evening on my way home from work,
I see a girl of nine or ten in her living room,
practicing the piano.
Not at all like I was.
I suppose, mother used to say,
you get the children you deserve.
In May, when the leaves have closed rank,
I’ll have to take it on faith that she is still
at the piano
that her mother is in the kitchen,
The little silver comb
on my mother’s dressing table–
I must have
I swore I didn’t
but never really
knew for sure.
at the bottom
of her jewelry box
Lies the truth–
and the little comb
that wasn’t really silver
© Gloria Parker
Gloria Parker is a retired elementary school teacher, who lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Her poems have appeared previously in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Slipstream, Mad Poets Review, Rattle, and Nimrod.