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Cleaning out her house after the funeral
I found sixteen jars of Noxzema cold cream under the bathroom sink, all half-used
while my mother boxed the plates and cursed
and listened to the answering machine greeting over and over again, crying.

In the back office there was the push-pin map of all the places she’d been,
a certificate of a solo hot-air balloon ride over north Jersey
a box from the Soviet Union marked with a Post-it note and my initials,
across the hall, my grandfather’s separate room.

I remember that as a child
I had tried to smooth out the wrinkles in her face
to see if she hid her secrets there
so I could pull them from her like turnips, red and bitter
and offer them to my mother.

  • A poem by Lisa Parisio.


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