Healing Arts
Poetry M - Z > Whittenberg, Allison

Poems by Allison Whittenberg


by Allison Whittenberg

When my mother was young, she was rich
So rich that her father bought her a coat
Straight from a well known department store
At ten after closing time by knocking on the window
And shaking a hand full of money at the manager.

It was a prepossessing coat.
Georgia clay red with a furry collar.

When my mother got a little older, her family was poor
And her mother and her had to share a coat. One had to wait for the
other to come in, order to go out.

It was a hideous coat.
Dull, black like something a pallbearer would wear.

When mother passed away,
My sister and I quarrel over her belongings
One coat, particularly.

It was chic
camel-colored, cinching at the waist.

My father threw salt,
Saying it looked better on me
Through persistence, I won it.

She was a disguised, mostly silent woman.
What I know of my mother, I glean from thread.

End Notes

by Allison Whittenberg

On that gorgeous spring day
The strong sun mocks

It was so close to her June birthday
Couldn't she have lasted two more weeks?

Who knew she a timebomb?
Who knew she had this hidden defect?

I should have been born clairvoyant.

That day, distant relations ate sloppily
Macaroni salad slid off their spoons onto their chins
They made it a party
There was chicken: fried, braised, broiled, roasted
So much damn food

Anger is my favorite part of the grief process
I do it well

The hincty lady down the street came by fussing for her pan
She had left her pan
She had to have her pan
I'd lost a person; she'd lost a pan
I gave her her pan,
Told her where to shove it,
Slammed the door

I was old enough to know that pets, flowers, people die
But not mothers

Daddy's usual husky, tender voice offered no solace
He crumbled like toast

My brother contacted his therapist

My sister still walks around with her face

Daffodils bloomed

And Otis Reading played on the stereo that Fa Fa Fa Fa sad song

Feeling Their Age

by Allison Whittenberg

often I wonder
where my real father is
when he is right in front of me
who is
this silver haired man
with the blurry voice
this man with an uneven gait
deep lines around his mouth
where is
the man that appeared
strong, tall
the man who could flatten hills
arrange stars

mother has a new child
someone else to clothe
she is old, but recognizable
she gets up early
still paints her lips red
she bakes biscuits
parcels out medication in tins
her brown skin sags
her hands are smooth

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