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Incident at the Mother's

It would have been the last thing his mother said
to him, to him and Em, that miserable
visit, early in their marriage,
the final cutting thing
on their way out to the car,
standing before it—

after a weekend of
the usual swipes, some subtle
belittlement or other to share
between them, though more
at Em than him, he thinks,
but truly he forgets
what it was that had him

lunging at his mother—too quick for him
to be amazed at himself, even—
but he did, his arms around her
back and back of the head,
the way you'd catch someone
who was falling over.

Except he was felling her,
swinging her into a waltzer's dip
and an abrupt halt, a hovering tableau
over the front of the car.
He thought he meant to say,
Just shut the hell up. Enough.
Shut up
, but as he finished—

his grip, easing, become
a cradling—what came out of him
as he laid her gently down on the hood
was Shah, shah, shah,   hush—
shah, shah, shah,    hush—

something from the beginning of
him, of her and him.

Jason Sommer


Spring 2017

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