Tomorrow I Turn Twenty


My mother misses a version of me
who is dead. My mother yells
because her parents did not teach her
how to cry. She gives me the slacks
that fit her twenty-something when
she ignored her lunches. I miss my mother

before I met her and she met me.
I miss the time when she listened
to classical music and rubbed her tummy
dreaming of a me who is not myself.
Now all I remember is Vivaldi
wrote four pieces about seasons

and I could recite their names
like notes that would not stick.
Before I slapped jam on pumpernickel,
my mother packed my lunch in slacks
that fit. Before I could pronounce
pumpernickel, I knew Vivaldi.

Before Vivaldi wrote something
so wild it tamed a woman
who does not cry, he missed the summer
rain so deeply he gave part
of himself to the piano and the toddler
and the mother who yells like she dreams.

Julien Griswold