“Let’s feed out tears to the dragons of misery, but let’s never crawl in their mouths.”Cristin O-Keefe Aptowicz
My Mother Wants To Know If I’m Dead
by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
RE YOU DEAD? is the subject line of her email.
The text outlines the numerous ways she thinks
I could have died: slain by an axe-murderer, lifeless
on the side of a highway, choked to death by smoke
since I’m a city girl and likely didn’t realize you needed
to open the chimney flue before making a fire (and,
if I do happen to be alive, here’s a link to a YouTube
video on fireplace safety that I should watch). Mom
muses about the point of writing this email. If I am
already dead, which is what she suspects, I wouldn’t
be able to read it. And if I’m alive, what kind of daughter
am I not to write her own mother to let her know
that I’ve arrived at my fancy residency, safe and sound,
and then to immediately send pictures of everything,
like I promised her! If this was a crime show, she posits,
the detective might accuse her of sending this email
as a cover up for murder. How could she be the murderer,
if she wrote an email to her daughter asking if she was murdered?
her defense lawyers would argue at the trial. In fact,
now that she thinks of it, this email is the perfect alibi
for murdering me. And that is something I should
definitely keep in mind, if I don’t write her back
as soon as I have a free goddamn second to spare.
Sleeping in Late with My Mother
She apologizes. It’s not like her. She’s usually up by six.
But it’s the weekend, you tell her, there is no need to rush!
The plan for the day is breakfast somewhere and walking
somewhere else. I’m happy, but Mom can’t believe that
she forgot to bring conditioner, or that she slept so late.
The housekeeper at the discount hotel knocks. We’re still here,
we’re still here! she shouts back. Girls’ weekend, just us two,
and still we have to remind each other it’s okay to take our time.
No rush, we say to each other, firmly. I’m writing two poems
a day all summer: one every morning and again every night.
It is morning and my mom tells me, Write a poem about this,
but don’t mention I slept in so late! Just put down that your mother
is taking it easy, that your mother is taking her time for once!So I do
what she says, sort of. And the housekeeper knocks again.
But this time, my mother doesn’t jump. Instead, she leans back,
comfortable, and shouts: Still here, Still here! We are still here!