ERRANDS WITH MOM
by Heidi Baker
I sit on the edge of the world, eating ice cream.
I kick cement. I kick again, back and forth,
my toes dancing with the sweet wonder on my tongue.
When I peer down at the cone
I see my nose, a shadow on a sunlit day.
How strange it is sticking out from my face.
Below my free hand, I feel small pebbles
make red dents in my palm, a childhood constellation:
Afternoon with Mom Between Grocery Stores.
I also call it Another Way to Pass Time.
I watch as each dent forms back into my everyday skin.
Old Woman Nameless who I see all the time,
a piece of the landscape, drifts by. Click-clack-stroom,
says her tilted red cart, a faithful companion.
Its top is invisible beneath years of treasures
hidden in garbage bags, and soiled fabric scraps.
I don’t know the meaning of her words, or where her eyes see,
just that we’re not looking at the same patch of the world our bodies share.
I do not wonder where she stops walking, where her body takes rest,
or when. I concern myself with her details, her uniquely broken
outline in a sea of people who hide their wounds.
Ice cream sticks street dust to my forearm. I dislike the feeling.
It says wrong when I want to be right. Mom looks down
at her piece of paper. An audible dialogue with her list informs me
how soon I will be near a sink to wash up and where we’re going next.
I am not patient, but I have nothing to say. I lick off my arm.
The smell of summer spit accompanies the rickety song
of an El train heading north across Sherman Avenue.
I am my mother’s companion, unaware her questions have meaning,
intent, mold me. I am unaware she’s leading. I think on my own terms,
an observer in the sky, tethered by gravity, but barely accepting
its consistency because I don’t want to.
I haven’t seen most things an earth serves up, nor do I consider this fact.
I have been put forth among angels and men, and this is enough to measure,
more than I know what to do with.
Before I’ve run out of ice cream my tummy aches in the middle.
I have nowhere to set my cone. I lick up the running cream and wait.
Heidi Baker is a second-generation poet and storyteller whose writing reflects inner landscapes shaped by journeys of miles and other measures: from Illinois to Arizona, work to home, childhood to adulthood to parenthood. Her poetry has been published on Spillwords.com. She can be found on Facebook at Heidi Baker – Author, and at heidibethbaker.weebly.com.
Art by Summer J. Hart
Summer J. Hart received a BFA in printmaking from the Hartford Art School in Connecticut and an MFA in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Influenced by repetitive organic geometries found in nature, landscapes viewed through knotholes, and forgotten territories reclaimed by nature, she uses cut paper to draw objects that are indicative of natural forms such as leaves, feathers, barnacles, and seaweed.