Said Unsaid

Naomi Shihab Nye awarded the Geneva Writers Literary Prize in Poetry (2nd place, June 2017) for my poem, Said Unsaid. Her comment “A clear, deeply felt poem in which memory of a mother and child’s ongoing disconnection now impact the child, mother herself, and her own child. Perfect, strong ending.”

I had a hunch
that one morning
I’d find her alone
ready for a talk, seated
at the kitchen table
with two cups of coffee.

Come sit with me a moment.
Sure, Mom.

I like to think
that she would have leaned in
that I would have leaned in
that we would have spoken
softly together
for as long as it took.

That after all was sipped
and said and heard, I might have
scooted back my chair
rounded the table
squeezed her shoulders, and
whispered into her hair,

I know, Mom. I’ve always known.
Nothing’s changed. I love you so!

But what really happened was
countless mornings
I came down to breakfast
found her alone
at the kitchen table
sipping her coffee.
Our words would slip away
into the day, and
that day into the next
until she disappeared, leaving
finite coffee rings only
on her side of the table.

I hear my daughter upstairs
getting ready for the day.
The kettle is on.
We’ll have tea for two.

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