by Shoshauna Shy

During my week away,
my mother determines
she is better off with-
out me, without mis-
matched volleys, fast
racket-smacks, my 
reluctance to indulge
in her pastime of kvetching.
It’s her ninth decade

and as much as she yearns
for conversation, that need rebels 
at how things turned out,
that it’s me on whom she
has to rely.
You don’t have to come twice

a week anymore
she announces as I hoist
her garbage to the dumpster,
a routine along with cartridge
extractions, Walgreen pick-ups
and battery swaps.
We have a history of bird-slaps
that snag in the net
or fly to far corners
well out-of-bounds,
conclusions that differ
over who serves next.
She had yanked my father

into Resentment River,
first to the waist,
then up to the chin,
soaking him beneath buckets 
of her indignance,
eroding what fondness
he and I had.
Now alive solo

the consequences surround her
like bullies in a schoolyard
once teachers go home.
Yet she panics when I
don’t answer my phone.
What a toll being stuck
with me takes.


Shoshauna Shy is the author of five poetry collections, two of which earned Outstanding Achievement awards from the Wisconsin Library Association. She is also the founder of the Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf program, and the Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Awards. She is also a flash fiction author - but that's a whole other story!