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My mother wields horror
stories the way some
emergency-room doctors
could do after their shift.
Not even my daughter’s slumber
party and new pet are spared:
guinea pig dies of heart attack
when surrounded by a few
rowdy eight-year-olds.
Beach trips are clouded
by images of kids suffocating
in collapsed sand holes or flesh
is impaled by a giant orange
flying umbrella. My siblings and I
brace ourselves before informing
her of any travel itinerary that lists
a foreign country. I’ve thought
about my mother’s own death
and find myself humming
Leonard Cohen: And who by fire,
who by water, who in the sunshine,
who in the night time.
I picture
giving her eulogy when the
time comes, steadying myself against
the immovable wooden podium,
feeling the weight of sand on
my chest. Maybe I share the story,
the one and only story that ends
her life; I hope it does not come close
to topping the ones she’s told.


Marjorie Thomsen’s poems have received awards from the New England Poetry Club and The Lucidity Poetry Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blast Furnace, Poetica Magazine, The Quotable, Red Claw Press’s anthology on Sleep, and others. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her family.

© 2011, Marjorie Thomsen

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