Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Heirloom

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Mother razes and wipes, razes and wipes,
While the old oak groans beneath her fingers,

Lodging a thin splinter into her palm when,
Ungloved, she smoothes a cross-grained edge.

She dresses the rough-hewn surface with spirits,
Finishes sanding–gentler when the heavy work is done.

I sidle in then, surprise us both
By offering to help.

Together, we wipe the antique chest clean of dust,
Kneel, and knead in stain with long strokes.

The wood darkens and ripples with coiling
Tracks and lines as we brush on the last clear coat.

The heirloom shines in the cluttered garage,
Ready for Mother's children to fill it, empty it.

We draw ourselves up to our feet, Mother's
Mottled hands pressed to the small of her back, aching

For a few moments at the looming cleanup, swaying
In fumes. I decide then I'll catch her if she falls.


Mary Beth Hines is a writer, following a long career as a project manager. An active participant in Boston area workshops, her writing has been published, or is forthcoming, in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, the Aurorean, Sky Island Journal, SPLASH, The Road Not Taken, and Brilliant Flash Fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s swimming or playing with her new grandson–an inspiration for much of her recent writing.


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Vivid, homey, loving with your signature touch of humor.
Lovely remembrance, a bit sad seeing her unfinished work.
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