The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Mother/Son by Lori Levi

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He could do it himself, make his own sandwich,
omelette and Monterey Jack in pita bread,
no tomato, just a pickle on the side.
Could squeeze his own orange juice
when he comes to visit. Wash his clothes.
I could tell him—as I told my daughter
when she moved out—that he’s old enough now

but he is my youngest and, unlike the others,
keeps to himself and clips his words,
racing or mumbling or stripping
to essentials, sometimes heated and sharp,
though he has his moments—openings, warm and
sudden as spring rain. I hold them like
gold, hoping for more

but I’m learning to wait, to take what he gives:
a quick glance or a line or two
or his long shape on the sofa,
watching TV. I hang on to eggs
and dirty jeans, to any chance I still have
to make for him, to do for him—
habits of connection between mother and son.
I rein in my questions,
try to give what he wants: maybe nothing more
than my presence—busy—somewhere in the house.
A kiss when he comes and goes.

Lori_LevyLori Levy— My poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Nimrod, RATTLE, and a variety of other literary journals in the U.S., as well as in England and Israel. “Home,” for me, means Vermont/Israel/Los Angeles, since I grew up in Vermont, spent 16 years in Israel, and now live with my husband in Los Angeles. Our three grown children live nearby. My latest hobby is playing with my two little grandchildren.


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