Now I understand why my mother was like she was,
why our house was laundry piles in the kitchen,
dirty ashtrays and coffee cups lipsticked on the rims.
My mother ate life.
No knife and fork poised over an entree.
She gulped, ran a paper napkin over her mouth.
And talked! How she could go, a rhythm known only to her
and her girlfriends: her sister Mary, Ruby from Georgia,
and the Suzie wanna-be’s she moved into our house.
She was too busy to read and mangled words
like some mothers sewed:
Chrystianthums, polyurtheline, lopers (to trim branches).
My mother was loud. She was embarrassing—
discussing my first bra on the streets of downtown Dayton
where strangers were privy to the development of my breasts.
Yet when anyone needed a defender, she stepped forth
in her bold-tongued way, wearing costume jewelry that clinked
as she gestured with hands that dipped and arced like finches.
My mother ate life, spicy and grilled,
laughing to doubled-over,
that sideways look in her eyes.
Rita Coleman’s award-winning poems have appeared in numerous publications including her first collection, Mystic Connections. An alum of Wright State University, she has taught college-level writing and poetry, and she has taught children’s poetry workshops at schools and libraries. Rita’s photos have been exhibited at the Town and Country Fine Art Center, First Friday in Springfield, and local venues throughout the Miami Valley. Her notecards and calendars are sold through Griffin’s Gifts and Cards in Kettering.