Speak for your mother to keep her memories alive

She churned butter as a girl.
I never asked if there was butter for
at the store, because
no store lived near
where her family lived.
I never questioned the access to store where
she made our family. Never considered the access to butter.

She played the piano. Her fingers lightly touching
then pounding
the keys of a dirtied-green upright,
her eyes closed,
face serene,
body swayed.
I came to see piano as her first lover.
Her solace.

She saw her grandfather corral a rattle snake
in the split of a stick.
Helped him slip that snake into a canning jar covered with wax
small holes poked in to keep the thing alive
reasons she never asked.
Unasked, he never answered.
As a girl,
I played with the rattles taken off
maybe that snake,
at least three total.
It never seemed odd until I told other,

She had a spearhead found on ranch land.
Same grandfather found that
as found the rattle snake.
Same grandfather gave it to her.
It sat on bookcases, in display tables,
one home to the next
until she wasn’t there to carry it anymore.
It sits in my home. An inheritance. A burden my daughters are
choosing to
bypass carrying forward
on that someday when
I’m gone.

She had a mother who could not love evenly.
This was the one
grandmother I knew, the other having died too soon. It made the
unloving of my daughters
easier to ignore.
least. I have learned her lesson in this and love all of the children in
my world readily,
regardless of actions.
And when they ask for a thing within my reach,
I force
myself to say
Of course.

Sally K Lehman


Sally K Lehman is the author of the novels In The Fat, The Unit – Room 154, and Living in the Second Tense. Her work can be found in literary magazines including Lunch Ticket, The Coachella Review, and Another Chicago Magazine. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.

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