81: Estelle by Michael Mark

Even when they danced, Dad couldn’t keep her

in his arms. She’d spin off, leave him to fade


back into the circle of others, clapping, hooting.

Days when the pond would freeze, mothers took


their children’s hands and worried them around

in slow circles. Mom raced in uncharitable loops


past me and my brother like we weren’t hers.

Same way she didn’t see my report card Fs as Fs.


She’d take the matching color pen and glide

the ballpoint so it looked like the B was always there.


You could ask how she convinced the butcher

his scale was wrong, how she’d roll her cart away


with three-eighths of a pound of corned beef, paying

for only a quarter – fat trimmed, the way dad liked,


but she’d skim that question like she did all surfaces,

even air. Now she’s given her own memory the slip.


Doctors say there’s no reaching her.



This poem was published in the Alaska Quarterly Review (Vol. 34, No. 1 & 2, 2017).

Think about how the poem made you feel. Did your mind fill with memories of your own mother or lack thereof? Do you relate to the premise of having someone close to you eventually spin away?

May you live out another beautiful poem in the collection of your life today, and we’ll see you again tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *