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.