What My Mother Left Me by Steven Rydarowski

I live alone now—

like to keep things

ordered. She lives

nearby, often stopping in

to visit and make sure

I’m not dead

next to the wood chipper.

When I was little

we battled. My only memory

of her and dad

is a blur, trying

to focus on the knife

she was waving

in Dad’s face which finally

rested, blunt-side

on his lip.

In

high school she and I

would spend hours

hazy in front of

the television, neither of us

caring enough to interrupt

the commercials.

She gave me

a speech once,

yelling as she brought

her hands together

above her head, placing

a full roll of toilet paper

on the spindle

throwing the empty cardboard

at my face.

She’d interrupted Friends.

I hate Friends now.

Now I’m sitting alone

on the toilet

reading Bukowski—

or is it Chinaski—

with the hum

of the running tank behind me.

The book closes

and falls between

my bare feet.

I reach out my hand,

think of my mother,

realizing she’d stopped by,

as my fingers land

on the

empty brown cardboard

tube.

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What My Mother Left Me by Steven Rydarowski

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