What My Mother Meant to Say That Night

By John Sibley Williams

Because men do what they want to
do, & the night just keeps skimming
quarters from the till when it thinks
no one is looking. No one is looking
when the hinged thing in my chest
swings wide & full, then empty of
itself, creaks closed forever. Of late,
alone like that, in a middle distance
between my body & another’s tally
of my body, maps redrawn & walls
where a wide, lit, temporary pasture
used to be, the stars are trembling
from the weight of dreams. If home
is the one place we cannot return to
& now is the only home we’ll ever
know, she tells me, how to explain
your tiny hand in mine — home, now
— kneading bread for your father
asleep upstairs in a half-empty bed I
half-pretend to share, how before he
wakes the waking doesn’t matter, &
after I’m gone, how hungry you will
both be.
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About John Sibley Williams

John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. An nine-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Prize, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, twin infants, two cats, and a feisty Boston Terrier.

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