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“Mother” by Merrijane Rice

You haven’t left yet, but when you do I’ll remind the children how you made sandwiches on warm wheat bread, stocked popsicles in your outdoor freezer, filled closets with homemade quilts.

I’ll tell them old stories of you pacing restless nights away, waiting for flown teenagers. Mothers never sleep well, you’d say.I’ll show them how to make hand-pulled honey candy from notes I scratched out that day I called you, craving.

I’ll teach them how to scrape buttery flesh from artichoke leaves, lift pastry sheets untorn into bed, fill strawberry pots with petunias, phlox, asters— anything but strawberries.

I’ll sing them up mornings, kneel them down evenings, fast them full, pray them safe each breathing moment.

But even if I squeeze out every drop you poured into me, those bitter-sweet juices can only flow so long.

So when you go, leave the door ajar. Peek in while we sleep, whisper reminders of how to measure hems straight and the best way to comfort newborn puppies.

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