Biographical Poetry posted March 1, 2024

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Ah, mothers and daughters...

Latchkey Love

by Aisha Robins

Still in the dirty green apron from Joann Fabric

with her plastic name tag and big pockets,

tonight, she’ll trudge up 24th Street,

swinging a plastic bag from Tag’s Teriyaki.

Her impressive collection of doo-dad key rings will jingle

on her backpack, filled with twenty pounds of textbooks

she schleps between classes because seniors are cool and

don’t need no stinkin’ lockers.

Sweetheart, am I bothering you?

She can’t see the Cascades from the apartment

while she’s sitting on a tiny island of carpet

surrounded by mountains of dirty clothes,

outcroppings of motley worn flip-flops, and

pots and plates with boulders of crusted food.

She’ll be blithely IM’ing intimate strangers

when my phone call interrupts,

three times zones away,

Sweetheart, am I bothering you?

Her hi, as a volley to my chirpy hi, sweetie sails smoothly

across the net and I think yay, everything’s fine

until she says fine, and I know it’s another night

when my daughter is a travel agent for guilt trips.

(My frequent flyer miles could get me to Borneo.)

I’m so lonely she says, and my heart almost cracks until

I realize her attention is focused on earning

Neopoints to spend Neocash on her Neopets.

Sweetheart, am I bothering you?

Are you enjoying the classes I ask, and she shrugs

– the silence tells me she has.

I have to do everything myself she says, and my heart almost cracks:

does it matter that she is probably not doing much of anything?

I ask her do you wish you hadn’t stayed there for your senior year but

I don’t tell her I love my new job, which is 2,800 miles away from her senior year.

We’ll live with the fall-out of our choices,

sweeping dried tears under the rug,

dancing our lives apart until we’re together again.

Sweetheart, I miss you.

Free Form Poetry Contest contest entry

I wrote this in 1999, when my daughter Catherine opted to finish her senior year in high school in Seattle, Washington instead of moving to Arlington, Virginia with me. She's now 42, married with two sons, 7 and 5.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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