Mother’s Slivers 

Mother’s plastic serving bowl could hold potato salad for 13
or both my soaking feet depending on the afternoon. 

No stinger, no sliver, was too deep for her to pluck from my peroxide-puckered skin. 

There she knelt, tweezers pinched between thumb and forefinger,
because I had walked without the shoes she gave me. 

Mother, you brought me here—
to the green grass,
to the clover,
to a full, needs-sanding porch.

Oh, how I had to feel it—
The yellow of dandelion
smushed beneath my toes,
the puncture. 

When you dumped my dirtied water down the drain
and sent me back into the world with Neosporin’s gloss, you knew this. 

And once the bowl was clean and returned to the shelf
you never took it down for yourself. 

Tell me, now, what did you leave lodged beneath your skin
when you picked your feet up again and again to follow me? 

What alchemy is yours that turned slivers into the sturdy trunk of a pine?

Do you look back on your mom with admiration? What are your favorite childhood memories of her?

Illustration via Paige Rochefort

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