11. Conversation With My Mother’s Picture

You and Dad were entirely happy here—

you in purple miniskirt, white vest and tights

(you always wore what was already too young

for me), Dad in purple striped pants,

a Kansas State newsboy’s cap

made for a bigger man’s head.

You both held Wildcat flags and megaphones

to cheer the football team who,

like the rest of the college, despised you

middle-aged townies, arranging for their penicillin

and pregnancy tests and selling them

cameras and stereos at deep discount.

But you were happy

in this picture, before they found

oat-cells in your lungs.

After the verdict, he took you to Disneyland,

this man who married you and your five children

when I was fifteen. He took you cross-country

to visit your family, unseen

since your messy divorce.

He took you to St. Louis

and Six Flags Over Texas and to Topeka

for radiation treatments.

I don’t think he ever believed

you could die. Now he’s going

the same way. And none of us

live in that Wildcat town with the man

who earned his “Dad” the hard way

from suspicious kids and nursed

your last days. For me, this new dying

brings back yours, leaving me only this image

of you both cheering for lucky winners.

— Linda Rodriguez

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Born in Fowler, Kansas, Linda Rodriguez has published Heart’s Migration, winner of the 2010 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence, and Skin Hunger. She received the Inspiration Award from the KC Arts Fund, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Midwest Voices and Visions Award, and both a Ragdale and Macondo Fellowship.


One thought on “11. Conversation With My Mother’s Picture

  1. I really didn’t care too much for this poem the first time I read it, but in reexamining it I have developed some appreciation for it because I can certainly see myself doing the same thing with my Dad’s picture now that he is gone. Certain pictures at certain times can trigger a flood of memories.

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