Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Contraction

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I don’t think
very often on you. I can’t feel
the bristle of your mustache, or remember the way
your jaw clenched when you needed
to get the belt. I don’t reflect
on the fact that I always pretended you were a police officer,
or someone heroic,
or maybe I’m confusing you
with someone else. I don’t associate you
with the taste of wild blackberries, the kind that grew on the edges
of our yard, or at least I think they did.
That was six houses ago. I can’t picture you,
your tall frame folded into the closet of my tiny, yellow bedroom,
building shelves for all of my precious books. I don’t know
the ages of your other children, or compare
their beauty to mine. I don’t wonder
how your heart is, whether it is scarred or healed from your stroke,
or from other things. I don’t feel
an empty space where you are supposed to be,
and didn’t, on my wedding day,
miss you. I don’t carry you
around with me. You are not the smooth,
round stone of memory that presses on me, that I feel
deep in my pocket.


Kate Benchoff teaches writing at Hagerstown Community College in Maryland when she’s not chasing her six-year-old little boy, gardening, or perfecting her spare rib recipe. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family and a dog with a Napoleon complex.


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