by Sam Herschel Wein
She can be tired, awake until 2AM then making breakfast at 7AM just in from 6AM jogging, two blueberry pancakes slid onto the plate from the buttery pan, she’s exhausted, her own mother ailing for 13 years, losing her memory, forgetting who we all were, then dying, she’s crying, hiding behind the door so no one can hear. She works 12-hour days at the hospital and her eyes sink to the floor when she gets home, still, she cooks dinner, her husband who says thank you says I feel guilty all of a sudden, she never followed her dreams, she wanted to be a writer? A musician? A lawyer? But he doesn’t question too much, falls asleep on the couch, and my mother washes the kitchen up with her face, still unchanged, she looks like how I remember her, at the dinner table, coming out and 17 and in my tennis clothes, she’s crying, sighing, for days, around the house, her face, next to mine in my bed, hymns, guitar, her gentle, perfectly pitched harmonies, every moment with her sends my mind back into my memories, like when she would make homemade pizza loafs that sliced into rolls whenever my friends came over, her face, working incessantly, the kitchen, the holiday dinners of brisket and chicken and brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes and lemon curd dripping over a matzoh-meal dairy-free cake, the gentler evenings, when we’re all relaxing and she worries, and she’s up late nights, every nights, that exhaustion, a lifetime, but it’s still her face, after I write the poems about her, after she says I should stay quiet just be quiet about being gay, after she shows up to my chapbook release party, and I think, look at us, trying so hard to look like the love we have to give, to look like two hands assembling homemade cookies, 5 different kinds, onto silver trays, passed down from her mother, from her mother’s mother, to me _____
Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a Chicago-based poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. Their second chapbook, GESUNDHEIT!, a collaboration with Chen Chen, was part of the 2019-2020 Glass Poetry Press Series. He co-founded and edits Underblong. Recent work can be found in perhappened mag, The Adroit Journal, and Sundog Lit, among others.