I Inherit the Whims of my Mother As I Prepare to Trash This Draft

I discover a piece of stationery, bordered with red-gold

leaves. In the center, her cramped hand reads simply

The snow is so so white today.

How odd to read these words in June, air hung with

humidity, sweat jeweling my lip. Just that one line,

stuck in an old calendar underneath a stack of books.

I upend each one, fanning the pages to search for more

and out they flutter like doves, each one scribbled like

urgent messages from some simpler beyond–

That red bird is back, crashing into the window.

Railroad tracks are the saddest things.

The wood is pretty where it is rotting.

If I could revise our lives, make her survive the cancer

that burned fast and bright through her insides,

I would tell her how wrong she was to say she couldn’t

write, how much I am like her with my mundane

notes, my daydreaming observations, post-its

congregating in each bag, notebooks on each surface,

and I would sit with her and notice every moment,

rebuke her for thinking she was not good enough,

a mistake I still make, one that I am making right now

as I question and regret each line I add to this poem.

I want to talk to her. I want to tell her that cardinal

is back, flying straight at the window again and again.


Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), both from Sundress Publications. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Rhino, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, and many other journals. Her third full-length collection is forthcoming in 2020 from Sundress.