Gloria Parker

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
the floor.


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.


In February

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,
humming along.


Long After

The little silver comb
on my mother’s dressing table–

she said
I must have
lost it.

I swore I didn’t
but never really
knew for sure.

But here,
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.

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