Talking to My Mother While She’s in Chemo


A photograph of an osprey with wings outspread against a blue sky

Jeremy Hynes via Unsplash

Talking to My Mother While She’s in Chemo


Don’t tell me about the osprey in Louisiana.
Tell me something square instead.
I remember the rocky river that ran behind the house.
You said, when the petals bloom at night, the fairies dance.
Tell me how you knew I snuck out to that concert.

Don’t talk to me of my marriage.
Will you give me your carrot cake recipe?
Explain why kisses treat scrapes.
What of the grandparents I never met?
Tell me of the light above the clouds.

Don’t talk to me about my hips.
When does the wind howl through the house of cards?
Don’t worry, you’ll see the next grandchild — to spoil, to guide.
Tell me about the princess with the flat shoes and the butterfly wings.
How should children speak to their parents?

Don’t tell me the combination to the safe, as if I’ll need it soon.
In the moment, that haircut seemed like a good idea.
Tell me about next Christmas, your house.
I’m sure you never made mistakes in your teenage years.

Don’t tell me to give my son your engagement ring.
Remember my twelfth birthday party?

Don’t tell me the petals no longer bloom at night.
Tell me how to wish upon the crab in the stars.



Jessica Doble recently graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a PhD in English. Her dissertation is titled “Reading Fandom: Fandom as Reception and Creative Authority.” She’s been published in the Xavier Review and the edited collection All About Monsters.