The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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When Our Tongues Get Stuck by Sarah Key

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Let’s gently unstick yours frozen to a popsicle (no more blood, please!)
you insisted on a winter’s morn in front of the Smithsonian.

Let’s use the Ouija board to talk to ghosts in the attic eave
where we were once small enough to fit.

Let’s “accidentally” squirt ketchup on Granddaddy
when he snaps us to “be still.”

Let’s read the dirty parts of Dad’s library books
under the covers before our epic blanket tug of war.

Let’s be the judge and jury when mom tells
law cases for bedtime stories.

Let’s scream Grandaddy’s favorite word “chichibofumbee” on San Francisco trolleys
even after we find out it’s Muskogee for “go fuck yourself.”

Let’s tell Uncle Gene you fell from a tree
when he suspects my fingernails scratched your face.

Let’s dress up:  Greta Garbo (me) and a hippie (you)
not for Halloween just because it’s fun.

Let’s bowl skeeball with Grandpa Al in Asbury Park
and combine our tickets for a better prize.

Let’s catch fireflies
make them into glowrings.

Let’s wrestle over the TV remove as if our lives depended on it
for the World Series (you) versus the Mayflower Madam (me).

Let’s re-collect your stamp collection that fell like confetti when you tore apart
your room to protest Mom (almost) marrying Tom aka Pocket Protector guy.

Let me see the STOP on the stop sign I missed
when I totaled your brand-new Datsun.

Let me wear your topsiders
so I can stop falling from my platforms.

Let’s listen to hockey pucks hit the glass while bodies crash
we fly, drive, train to all my son’s games.

Let’s hold hands in a starlit walnut grove and
dance on Ojai dirt at my daughter’s wedding.

Let’s always speak in sisters


Sarah Key has shape-shifted her writing personae from art book editor to cookbook author to poet, essayist, and teacher. She has eight essays on the Huffington Post and numerous poems in journals from Poet Lore to Tuesday: An Art Project, as well as in the poetry anthology My Cruel Invention. Harlem is home, and the Bronx is where she learns about places she’s never been from her writing center students.

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