The Dynamic

“What did I do, Mom? Just tell me! If I didn’t do anything, why are you acting like this?”

Mom looked up from the table. “Acting like what?”

I closed my eyes for a moment and failed at regaining my composure. “Nothing, Mom. It’s just that I thought all of this shit would stop once I got a mortgage of my own. I thought our family would sort of just grow out of this thing we’ve got going. I can’t fix a problem if I don’t know what it is.”

She glanced sideways, as though considering the consequences of speaking honestly. Her breaths drew more slowly. “I thought you were going to stop dating that Jewish girl.”

The room inflated and deflated synchronously, and I found myself chuckling at the impossibility of settling our differences.

For Mom

The caves seem changed now,

harder to traverse.

With the guide near, we felt a sense of confidence.

Assuredly.

Stepping onward; trekking with fervor and excitement.

Now we call out for the guide,

but we know she has gone before us and stands above us

in the light.

slipping on wet rock

one less spark to show our way

and one less voice to echo off of the cave walls

“Don’t turn left. It’s all dead ends that way.”

She knows, because she has explored that path,

and come to the end of it.

Herself.

I recite to those behind me where the steep drops hide

and pray her echoes don’t escape my memory

before I find my way to level ground

and can feel the sun for myself.