Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It was the weekend after she died,
or maybe the weekend after that.

Everyone came back home even though my mother
had been clear there would be no funeral.

She didn’t want a funeral, my mother told me over the phone.
Okay, I said. I figure it’s probably a lot like my not wanting a birthday party
when I was younger, scared no one would come and then I would know.

My mother, to honor her dead mother, made all her favorite dishes.
Her ashes would be dumped in the ocean off of Florida where she lived for so long.
I was not invited. None of the grandchildren were.

Coordinating schedules is too hard, my mother says. It will just be your father and I.
And your uncle and his wife.
Okay, I said.

At dinner my mother talked about how hard it was sometimes.
She could be such an infuriating woman, my mother says about the dead.

And I remember being younger, my mother pulling me aside, telling
me to be nicer to this woman, this old woman I didn’t know. This strange presence in our house.

My mother pressed into my palm a little toy locket
To keep, she said, if you are nicer.

She was just unhappy, my sister said. She was never happy.
I know, my mother said. It was so infuriating.

And then she says, I wish I had more time. I think I wasted time being angry.

You should have been nicer to her, I said.

It just came out like a landslide of words
out of my mouth, past my teeth, floating out in the air.

My mother’s face crumples. She nods. She agrees.
I can’t bear to look at my sisters.
By then, it’s too late for me to take it back.

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