Mom drives halfway there 

, and Dad says, “Hellooo,” to us drawing his o’s out as long as his jowels which precede him more prominently this year than his offering of redder eyes, and fuller belly with cotton shirt tucked in. I still won’t look too long into his laser surgery eyes; listen too intently to his long wind-ups to long-winded questions for his greased and oiled college-educated children sitting across from him on the bed. His idle anger over higher education makes me hate the fact that I ever wished to marry him,–and his thick folded hands make me burn against him when he announces over eggs and cinnamon rolls in Perkins that this will be our last family vacation. I avert my gaze askance from his bloodshot eyes as Mom tears up, –I teach her soft shoulders and neck to say goodbye by patting her back like I’m burping a baby who has air to pass, but who might also very well spit up.

::

for Real Toads

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28 thoughts on “Mom drives halfway there 

  1. Like doesn’t actually describe my reaction but your poem is so very effective and powerful– the last trope especially but the whole thing. Thanks for playing along and with such a strong poem. K.

  2. “I teach her soft shoulders and neck to say goodbye by patting her back like I’m burping a baby who has air to pass, but who might also very well spit up.”

    really luv these ending lines

    much love…

  3. “I teach her soft shoulders and neck to say goodbye by patting her back like I’m burping a baby who has air to pass, but who might also very well spit up.”

    Such raw and powerful emotions conveyed in these lines. Beautifully written, Angie ❤️

  4. These words caused a twinge in my heart, having experienced this with my own mother:
    ‘I teach her soft shoulders and neck to say goodbye by patting her back like I’m burping a baby who has air to pass, but who might also very well spit up’.

  5. Such a telling portrait – to portray someone from the outside, where physical traits and behaviour patterns hold sway.

  6. It was the shirt that made me see him. There’s a thousand guys like that. And the long wind-up to the long-winded questions for his greased and oiled children. I felt like he probably has no idea how others experience him, or he has no idea or will to change anything. A sad and clanky wind-up toy winding down. I know other readers have focused on the mom, but it was him who intrigued me, even though he is a common type. Maybe because.

    1. I may have painted him with too broad a brush, but yes! I only added mom in afterwards to show what a source of consternation and tears he can be. Of course, it’s more complicated; he’s more complicated than what I’ve shown in a couple sentences, but HE was my focal point.

  7. The last lines are so tender. It made tears come to my eyes having gone through this with my own mother with Alzheimer’s. He may be the focal point but she is the ending. Wonderful poem.

  8. The disappointment in him is so marked by that line ” …i ever wished to marry him’ A young girls hero turns out to be not that at all? It is a powerful write and for me, as a man with daughters, he was very much the focus.

  9. Oh, wow, each character so clearly defined. The physical descriptions are wonderful and I especially loved the tenderness of patting the mother’s shoulders to “teach her to say goodbye.” Sigh. A lovely and loving write.

  10. There is so much in this short passage. That last line, and your sweet mama.
    I paid attention (and felt like a stalker) watching your vacation – I wondered how he was doing and how you were, too. xo

    1. And about our vacation…he doesn’t want to fly or take a train ever (again), or drive too far…so SD was their limit (hey drive 10 hours), and it’s dwindling now to Missouri or Arkansas. I’m thinking I’ll just fly back for holidays in KS from now on. Aging is a real struggle, and with Mom’s confusion it makes it all more difficult. She couldn’t even remember what we did the day before:( Dad asked her what she thought of Bear Country, and she said, “What bears?”

  11. A moving, and intensely real vignette. You brought them, and yourself in this context , vividly to life. I LOVE the starting with that comma, and how much you encapsulate in brief phrases such as ‘idle anger’. I don’t know if ‘jowels’ is a typo or you meant to spell it with the ‘e’ but either way I love that too, as it tells me that, in that place/family, it is pronounced with two syllables (to go with the long drawn-out o’s) and gives me a sense of the whole regional accent. (And it suggests ‘vowels’, which seems to fit too.)

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