"Near the End"
my mother smelled like cat piss
and refused to let Housekeeping launder
her slacks. She hoarded black bananas
and once tossed a month’s supply of Aricept
into the trash. She forgot our outings
by dinnertime and complained
that no family ever came by.
She never said if she’d hoped
for more children after me. Hope
was not a thing to pin on your sleeve.
Not then, not in that house I was so eager
to leave. She spoke her piece through slap
and doorslam, the slant eye of gin.
Next summer I’m thinking of going back
for one last look at her name.
Dear mother, show me the way
to love you. When I leave this time
it will be forever. On the black asphalt
of anger you laid down layer by layer,
hard hat and stiff broom.
Steamroller. Steel rake.
What should I say to the ground?
About the author
Emily Ransdell's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kestrel, Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Tar River Poetry and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Rattle Poetry Prize, the New Letters Prize and the Janet B. McCabe Prize from Ruminate Magazine. Emily divides her time between Camas, Washington and the North Oregon Coast.