“So I Call My Mother On Sunday” by Sarah Freligh is one of those poems that’s just so spot-on about families and about life that I don’t know how I could possibly say anything to introduce it that would be worth its truth.
SO I CALL MY MOTHER ON SUNDAY
every Sunday, though I don’t say
how are you anymore because I know
she’s dying and each day will be worse
than the day before. Her liver’s rotting
the way an apple goes bad, swelling
as it softens and maybe smells sweet
as fruit does before you toss it.
I ask her how the weather is, snowing
like crazy here, about the traffic
at the bird feeder. She likes to watch
the small birds, chickadees and nuthatches,
not so much the sparrows though
today she says the minister’s there
and she’s planning her funeral. She wants
to be cremated. She wants an urn
and the family to bury her, no one else
in attendance. A memorial service, maybe
sandwiches after. It’s been snowing
every day for a week now, I say, we’re knee
deep in it. Did you hear me, she says
and I tell her it’s such heavy snow
to shovel every hour I get so tired
of shoveling, god, I want to cry.
Sarah Freligh is the author of Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis. Other books include A Brief Natural History of an American Girl, winner of the Editor’s Choice award from Accents Publishing, and Sort of Gone, a book of poems that follows the rise and fall of a fictional pitcher named Al Stepansky. Her work has appeared in Sun Magazine, Hotel Amerika, BOAAT Journal, Rattle, on Writer’s Almanac, and anthologized in the 2011 anthology Good Poems: American Places. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006.