Someone with My Mother's Feet
by Maya Stein
next to me at the caféSecond Place Winner
a woman with green earrings
and furrowed eyebrows
is a picture of concentration,
typing earnestly at her laptop,
slim fingers frantic on a keyboard.
i worry about the slight intrusion
of the glance i make in her direction,
she looks so busy, focused, an armature
of steel, and if it weren't for the
hip, worn-in jeans,
the classy sunglasses
the strappy california sandals,
if it weren't for the blond hair and the designer computer,
and the precision of her manicure, i swear
she could be my mother.
i am not about to paint a florid,
rose-scented picture, tell you mom's feet
are the envy of all women, say something
about mythology or fairy tales, tell you
they are worthy of a major magazine spread,
a slot on Oprah, a trademark, or Nike's backing,
tell you they're the wave of the future,
a legacy of sainthood, and evidence
of the divine.
would stop, gape-mouthed, at her beach towel,
interrupt her from a summertime read
and exclaim to god over her toes.
it's just that somehow
this reminds me
of everything else about my mother,
the very earth of her,
the powder goodness of her,
how on her last visit,
i came down one morning to find her
twirling in my kitchen
with no music on,
a sinkful of dirty dinner plates before her.
the strange sight of it,
a 56-year-old woman with soapy hands
and feet moving on their own accord,
and how at first i thought, uh oh,
a mother twirling to no music in particular,
should i be concerned, talk to dad,
talk to siblings, think about next steps,
sit down to a calm, reasonable meal to
address the issue, call her friends,
make some arrangements, make sure
she's got the cell phone on
at all times.
but then she looked up and smiled
when she saw me
and kept up her tango on the tiles.
and i thought
how lucky i was
to have a mother who knows how