My Mother at Dinner


by Olivia Townsend


My mother is miraculous
Can pull a communion table out of thin air
Can make a space for everyone:
You, me, and all of our dead
She blesses the food with
Holy shit! and Ohmigod!
Consecrating as she masticates
Because nothing isn't good
Enough to incite orgasmic ecstasy
We go out to eat twice a week
Or everyday, not good at maintaining
Tradition rejoice in the familiar liturgy
Of being served & not serving
Because we cannot cook good food
We do not like to clean
& we hate to be alone together
Here we divide ourselves
Between glaring at the menu &
Fiddling with the candle
Diverting our eyes over the
Marvelous spectacle of people
Those uncomfortable conversations
Never pass over the table I mean
No uncomfortable conversations
Ever pass over the table.


As badly as I want it
You could never hold me
Whether languishing in the corner
Or kissing my feet
Your glamor rises through me
With convalescent transparency
And yet 

The dirt, grit, and asphalt lining
The ventricles of my heart
And the wooden bones of my
Clavicles & the milk
Running through them
My briny bloodwine
Too rich without a chaser &
From separate barrels poured

Could never quench your thirst
Though nourished by the same dirt
Couldn't gather me like wildflowers
With blooms too subtle &
Brief as a taper 

You could never hold me
For I know not what you'd hold
If my cup runneth over it's because
I can barely contain myself

How Funny // remembering (ghosts) //  

I dreamt // my younger cousin was telling // her boyfriend //
that their beach trip would be fun!!!  // so long as he could ignore //
the moaning  // that came from her parents bedroom // every night and all morning. //
She didn't seem to know // why the moaning occurred // just that it happened //
It was a fact of life! // They would have to // *get over it* //
And then suddenly, // just like that // my aunt & uncle appeared //
wearing just their bathing suits // exactly how I remember them. 

When I was a kid, // I used to watch cartoons // & wonder
why everyone always wore // the same clothes. // Day after day, //
donning the same outfit. // That's not real life, // I thought. //
But then again, maybe it was. // I thought, // there must be
something wrong with me, // I can't // see the magic marker lines //
around // people's bodies, // like in the cartoons. //
I was used to being wrong, // & when I tried really hard //
indeed, // I could just faintly see… 

In a very post-modern episode // of Mickey Mouse, //
Mickey looked at his hands // & asked,
"Why must I always wear white gloves?" //
I couldn't BELIEVE that Mickey noticed // what I thought
for sure, // I wasn't supposed to have noticed. // In fact,
I felt dumb for even asking // so in my very post-modern
way, I answered // "Why don't I always wear white gloves?" 

When my last boyfriend & I // broke up // he pushed
me down the stairs. // He'd quit his job,
// sold his house & his car, // had one uncleared
drug charge, // I guess pushing me // was a way
to get out his frustration. // Hope it helped. //
Anyway, // for months after the incident // I dreamt
of him // always in his blue work uniform //
as I'd seen him // every morning // before he left.


Olivia Townsend is an MFA student and Mistress of the Dark at the University of Alabama. She is mostly from Chattanooga, TN.