portion of Ronnie K. Stephens' artwork

Mother to Son, Back Again
Ronnie K. Stephens

Evenings with my mother often circle
back to the whiskey in her glass, my wasted
years in college. Never mind the degrees
on my office wall or the kidney failure that up
and disappeared on her last visit to the family
doctor. This is how we dance. Feral brows
curled over pursed lips, already elevated
blood pressure rising with each emphatic #8211;thump–
of fist to table. Yes, mother, the three drinks
keeping time for your watch in the bedroom
mouth addiction. You are drowning. No, mother,
I could not work my way through college.
Exams are too time consuming to be bothered
with afternoon shifts at the university
bookstore. You do not understand. You have
never set foot on a campus. But then
I thought you destined for a third divorce
when you married the man who carried you
from the neighborhood bar to his home
before he got your name. You called it chivalry.
You were right. Addicts hold tight to the things
they love most. And I am better for it.

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