CLEAVING: On Hearing My Mother Has Been Placed In Isolation
Anne-Marie Oomen

Too early, the phone. I pick up,
listen through fog. Bare light
pries me open: I cannot
go to her. I rise from sheets
wrinkled and damp as insect wings,
larval thoughts, sluggish memory:

my mother when I was six, looking
for corn in fields gone dead
after brutal drought,
finding none, not even a blade
of Whitman’s revered grass.
Our lives, mere spit-spattered
stones drying in the sun. Did she
sink into the dust? Did she pull
me into her lap? Maybe I kissed
her, but I think she let me lick
the sweat from her face. That
thirst and sustenance. How does
anyone survive alone?

When I saw her last, home
is what she wanted most,
knowing where the knives are,
how a single piece of toast could
be cut to feed us all. Some would
call that cleaving, which works
both ways: to cut apart,
and to cling with all your heart.
At last, I put down the phone.

A Cabrera's poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in The New Guard, Brain,Child Magazine, Colere, Acentos Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Best Travelers' Tales 2021 Anthology, Mer, Deronda, and other journals. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Award and adapted for stage by the Bay Area Word for Word Theater Company. She writes, teaches, dances and ride bikes in San Francisco, but not always in that order.

Anne-Marie Oomen wrote Lake Michigan Mermaid with Linda Nemec Foster (Michigan Notable Book, 2019), Love, Sex and 4-H (Next Generation Indie Award for Memoir), Pulling Down the Barn (Michigan Notable Book); and Uncoded Woman (poetry), among others.  She edited ELEMENTAL: A Collection of Michigan Nonfiction (also a Michigan Notable Book). She teaches at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College (MA), Interlochen’s College of Creative Arts (MI), and conferences throughout the country.