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

into violent.

The distance

between them gets


and you must


the cycle

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.


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Writers Bio

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.

Inspirational ImageMisty Tea by Silvia by Silvia

Pieces Inspired by this Image

'Idée Fixe'
by Kathy Benjamin

'Bad Dispositions'
by Catherine Marinelli

'Inside a Ceramic [S]Hell'
by A.J. Huffman

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