Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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As I watch you turtle-
backed go down the hill

to catch the bus I wish
you had a Joey in your

life to go with you, Joey who
walked beside me, brown

foot-high shoe a magnet
for the laughter he ignored,

or rheumy Jean who was so
kind but never used a tissue,

left trails of snot and tears
on all our memories of Grade

Four. Or good old Hubert,
dozy smile and slow

illumination as we plotted
by the woodshed, mashing

bugs and carving towns
from dirt. So simple they

all were, the days I mean,
when everyone was just

a stripe crossed with others
in a busy plaid, a nut

tossed in with bolts
and nails, a dandelion among

the Queen Anne's lace
and quack grass by the schoolyard

fence, when summers were
still feral and small worlds

forgave us all for being, just
for being. You once fit

in my cupped hands, lay
in the blanket box

for months beside our
bed where we could

hear your tinny cry,
and you could feed

on our imagination:
will you walk, or talk, will

you learn to read, can
you prove the doctors

wrong, and when will
all the eyes and tongues

begin to carve the scars
behind your skin? What

shoes can we make for
your path now, what hand-

kerchief will dry the sea
that rises higher at your door?

"Different" first appeared in Combustion (Brick Books, 2007)

Lorri Neilsen Glenn is the editor of Untying the Apron: Daughters Remember Mothers of the 1950s (now in its third printing), as well as the author of several collections of poetry and creative nonfiction. An award-winning writer and teacher, she is working on a bricolage memoir about her mother’s life. Find her at

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This is very beautiful, and richer each re-reading. Thank you, Jennifer
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