I See My Mother

I see her underneath the diving board—
the chlorine brings out her freckles.
Her hair is pulled back in a big brown clip after a long day
of cleaning house and belting Dixie Chicks lyrics.
Her shoulders hurt, but at least
the toilet smells like green Skittles.
and if you licked the windows, they’d taste like vinegar.
You could even eat off the kitchen floor
if she’d let you—I’d bet it’d be apple-flavored.

She is stained pink strawberry fingers and a bowl of sugar,
flip-flops flip-floppin’ on wet carpet,
and a pint of Häagen-Dazs wrapped in a dish rag.
She is “A warm bath makes everything better,”
and the first one I call when I have good news.
She is the snap of my favorite pencil when I got my times tables wrong
and a cell phone flying into the fireplace because the cat ruined her favorite shirt.
She is “Don’t be like me. Go to college,”
and the chill up my spine when I’ve missed a deadline.

I see her produce violent sobs from mid-air, but hold her own
through battles that would break the strongest Marine.
I see her teach herself to survive each day
while insisting that she’s nothing without a degree.
I see her stumble and fall through her struggles with God
yet she insists that it’s all in His plan.
I see her put everyone else before herself,
no matter how badly she needs her own attention.
I see her as strength, beauty, resilience, and vigor.

I see her even if no one else does.

Micaela Walley is pursuing her Creative Writing bachelor’s degree at the University of South Alabama. She is currently the poetry editor for Oracle Fine Arts Review and an intern at Negative Capability Press.

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