The morning after I rejected my best friend’s proposal of marriage at Union Station

Mom makes eggs
one palm clasping the skillet handle, the other a spatula. Loose
pieces of hair like flypaper glisten and cling to the sweat on her neck.
Our AC’s broken, window cranked, Mom pauses mid-stir and looks at me
elbow deep in dishwater, cracking the rind of crust from a plate.

She’d had five husbands by then, hadn’t figured it out yet, the part where marrying works.

Twice Mom married for love, I remember only the last.
The broken nose, piping whine of a U-Haul
door stuttering closed at midnight. Stone-faced, she only cried once,
when we sank into that first Illinois rest stop.

A breeze cuts through the window, Mom hip-bumps me, soap bubbling over the sink edge.
She lifts the skillet and the eggs slide, yokes wobbling into our thin blue bowls.
The window is left open. We lie on the kitchen floor under it passing a fork between us,
sink still full,
soaking last night’s dinner.

 

 

 

 

Ashley Mallick works in the emergency room of her local hospital. She writes about family violence and true love. She has worked with Southern Illinois University’s Grassroots Magazine and has poems available online at the Academy of American Poets’ website. She lives in the woods of Southern Illinois with her pup, partner, and their wild toddler.