Conversation with Mother
by April Salzano
They sit at a booth in the center
of the restaurant. The girl drinks iced
espresso, her mother, raspberry pomegranate tea.
Tiny white acrobats of steam collect in the ceramic
mug. They dance.
Her mother waves the girl’s cigarette smoke
from her face, feigns a cough, and draws circles
on the table with a short finger, talking
about the cycles of abuse,
that shift through calm
between them gets
and you must
at any point.
The girl nods and beckons
the waitress for a glass of water.
The waitress tells them that they look alike.
An old couple at the next table affirms
with smiles as fragile as ceramic.
The mother leans forward, says,
Even though it wasn’t that long ago
it seems like light years away. I’m not
even sure who I was then. She twists
each of her rings until the stones
sit at the top of her freckled hand.
Familiar. The girl touches it, trying
to hold onto a moment
that has already passed.
That would never happen to you,
the mother says. You are too strong.
I am your mother. I know this.
The girl pushes the cigarette
into the ashtray and blows the last of the smoke
toward the old couple. She has things to say,
but can’t reach the words.
Looking at what has become the mirror
across the table,
she wonders if she would be heard. The sun has
tossed dust onto the Formica. She sees
the circles on the surface
before her mother brushes them away with a napkin.
April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in online and print journals such as Poetry Salzburg, Pyrokinection, Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, and The Rainbow Rose. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry and an autobiographical novel examining the beauty and pain involved in raising a child with Autism.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Inside a Ceramic [S]Hell'