my mother never visits me in this new house
maybe she's embarrassed to be scene
climbing up and down the neighbor's stares
in her old cloth coat and mismatched gloves
maybe she borrows their eyes to watch
her self limping through their looks and snorts
maybe she sighs to see a woman whose tide went out
a lady who never knew what missed her.
but i miss her laughing whooping farting
hugs that pulled and soothed and softened
the scabs and scars and the dirty jokes
that she whispered so we could pretend i didn't hear.
i go back, from time to time
to the old neighborhood
i fruitstand and butchershop my way along fourth avenue
and outside mchugh's, with a beer and a filter cigarette,
she squeezes my hand.
Lynn Hoffman is the author of The Short Course in Beer and The New Short Course in Wine
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