first appeared in Pedestal Magazine

War Bride


I didn’t know, Mother, I didn’t know until after—

when I read that dying’s not the time to bring up memories.

The painkillers weren’t supposed to put you out,

but you hallucinated—

thumb and forefinger sewing the air,

voice clear, Who’s the little boy in the corner?


I thought it best to keep your mind alive,

so I slipped

home movies into the VCR, propped up your bed,

my commentary forced, like spreading hard

butter on bread.


In those scenes, I was a child who never thought

of your bravery—leaving Australia, family,

the little roadster your father gave you,

a job in his shop. You crossed the world,


seasick in a converted war ship—a wattle leaf

on the roller-coaster ocean—a train blur to Detroit.

How did you trust Dad like that?


You loved each other, yes, but I don’t remember you

having fun. We kids made you nervous. Migraines

put you to bed, while the five of us failed to obey,

Play quiet as mice.

Then, with his Parkinson’s, you became caregiver



Mother, I’m sorry I intruded, yet I’m grateful

we watched this movie:

Holding my hands, you twirl us, your plaid skirt rising

like a flying saucer.

You lift me to your chest, walk toward the camera

and wave, our faces growing large as suns,

your lipstick Revlon red.