Leaving: the mother's poem
by Karen S. Mittelman

    Whose story is she living inside now,
    walking down furrowed black asphalt
    to her car,
    petting the cat
    who will not wake her for milk
    in the morning,

    turning one last time to see
    the faces of her daughters,
    startled birds
    in the window?

    She holds the weight of
    their sorrow in the cupped palms
    of her hands

    Her palms will twitch
    naked and feverish
    in her sleep

    the fever will tell her
    she is still alive

    What song will she sing
    when she rises tomorrow,
    cold and solitary?

    She knows only
    it will not be this one.

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