She calls too early and too often.
She forgets which day we made plans
and worries that my gloves
aren’t warm enough.
Her voice is small and ripples like tiny waves.

I repeat myself often
and loudly.

“Yes Mom, we have plans today . . . ”

“No, at noon. Don’t be late.
I have somewhere to be at 2.”

I have nowhere to be.

When she gets here, I’ll watch
her from the sun porch as I inhale
a cigarette hard and she fumbles
around the car for things
I don’t want. And she’ll step
short and slow up to the house,
a large black velvet hat with rhinestones
sidling its way toward me.

She’ll look thinner than last time
and I’ll know within seconds
what kind of day
the meds will have.

I’ll take the useless bags from her hands,
set them down and she’ll hug me
for a long time (as if I’m the one dying),
and I’ll wonder if she can smell the sleep
and red wine all over me.

She holds on tight
while the warm sweet scent
of her sweater reminds me
of everything between love and fear
so I loosen before wanting
to tell her this.

Ashley Warren is a Minnesota native and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Her work has appeared in many print and online journals including Hiram Poetry Review, Red River Review, Old Red Kimono, Convergence Magazine and Sparkle + Blink.

Read our interview with Ashley here.