local_library Sabbath Day Soft Serve

by Victoria Thompson

Published in Issue No. 170 ~ July, 2011

Stirring a spoon in swoops

between the letters of alphabet cereal,

I watch my mother drop pills into her

seven-day pill container.

It’s a familiar sound—

soft, but consistent and

sometimes destructive, like the

tick of water from a leaky pipe

dripping into the steel soup pan

that your mother told you to put

beneath the bathroom sink.

We are late for church, but she says

a soft serve cone will make her feel

better. Grabbing her order

from the cashier, I imagine the

hard-shell chocolate coating

is the shield I need to seal

in the last few months.

It isn’t just any ice cream

beneath the shell—it has the flavor

of phone calls in March

when I could hear the pulsing of her ear

against the phone

as if to numb the words

expressed through the wire, the flavor

of the hospital visit in April when I saw

my father in sweatpants for the first time.

Her melting treat makes me ask

for an extra dish, praying that

she’ll use it to catch the drippings.

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Victoria Thompson, 22, is from Arlington, MA and is a first-year student in the MFA Poetry program at the University of New Hampshire.