My Mother’s Instructions for How to Prepare for a Last Phone Call with a Dying Ex-Husband, by Tom Daley

Find an uncomfortable chair.
There are old letters from a bomber pilot in the South Pacific. Discard them.
Do not conjure the lemony rot in the collar of his pajama top.
Find the ear syringe behind the ice cap in the medicine cabinet.
Give up vindictive nightmares for Lent.
Try on the dead dog’s collar that hangs on a nail in the basement.
Pull all the brown leaves off the geraniums.
Apply hot compresses of clam broth to your forehead.
Research the pain indices for bone cancer generated by malignant tumors in the prostate.
Invite the children over to watch home movies, and when they arrive, take a long trip in the car.
Inquire about the current rates at the motel where you checked in the afternoon you found
the tacky, sequined lady’s cigarette case on the passenger side of the front seat of the Falcon station wagon.
Search scrap metal junkyards for the cast iron skillet you threw at him on Mother’s Day,
and missed.
Turn over the mattress.

-Tom Daley
from House You Cannot Reach: Poems in the Voice of My Mother and Other Poems, FutureCycle Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission of the poet.

Author: Frances Donovan (aka Okelle)

I like poetry, long walks on the beach, and net neutrality. Tending the Garden of Words (www.gardenofwords.com) since 1998.

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