With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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For the fourth time my mother
asks, “How many children
do you have?” I’m beginning
to believe my answer,
“Two, Mom,” is wrong. Maybe
the lesson is they are not mine,
not owned by me, and
she is teaching me about
my relationship with her.
I wash my dish and hers.
She washes them again. I ask why.
She asks why I care.
Before bed she unlocks and opens
the front door. While she sleeps,
I close and lock it. She gets up. Unlocks it.
“What I have, no one wants,” she says.
I nod. She nods.
Are we agreeing?
My shrunken guru says she was up all night
preparing a salad for my breakfast.
She serves me an onion.
I want her to make French toast
for me like she used to.
I want to tell her about my pain,
and I want her to make it go away.
I want the present to be as good as
the past she does not remember.
I toast white bread for her, butter it,
cut it in half. I eat a piece of onion.
She asks me why I’m crying.