Even when they danced, Dad couldn’t keep her
in his arms. She’d spin off, leave him to fade
back into the circle of others, clapping, hooting.
Days when the pond would freeze, mothers took
their children’s hands and worried them around
in slow circles. Mom raced in unchartable loops
past me and my brother like we weren’t hers.
Same way she didn’t see my report card Fs as Fs.
She’d take the matching color pen and glide
the ballpoint so it looked like the B was always there.
You could ask how she convinced the butcher
his scale was wrong, how she’d roll her cart away
with three-eighths of a pound of corned beef, paying
for only a quarter – fat trimmed, the way dad liked,
but she’d skim that question like she did all surfaces,
even air. Now she’s given her own memory the slip.
Doctors say there’s no reaching her.
Originally published in Alaska Review and subsequently in the chapbook, Visiting her Queens Is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet (Rattle Prize Winner, 2022).