My Mother Is the Statue of Liberty by Mathieu Cailler


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My Mother Is the Statue of Liberty

Dragging her body out of the Buick,
grocery bags cradled in her arms,
eyeshadow matching the half circles
under her eyes, she shuffles to the front
door, wedges it ajar with her foot. Her
apron covered in coffee, mustard, some
sloppy-joe sauce (the blue-plate special
on Thursdays at the diner). Setting her
purse down, she shuts her eyes, grabs
what she can of blackness, then asks
about my day, asks my brother the same,
asks about our spelling and math tests, then
asks dad about his truck and if he was
able to find work at the Hy-Vee on I-80.
With one hand, she works off her apron,
mutters in a whisper that she can’t believe
she wore it home, then funny enough, puts
it aside as she prepares a dinner of elbow
noodles and ground beef. No one asks
how her day was, and even if we did, she
would smile and say, “Good. Why don’t
you get washed up… you finish homework?
Want to read together later? Checked
out a book at the small branch.” Her back
hunched, she starts the burner and I
already know the rest of her hour: get
supper ready, set the table, carry out
the dish in red oven mitts, call for us to
get to the table—give me your tired,
your poor, your huddled masses—before
setting the casserole down and holding
out her hands to say grace.



Mathieu Cailler

Mathieu Cailler’s poetry and prose have been widely featured in numerous national and international publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Saturday Evening Post. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he is the recipient of a Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. He is the author of Clotheslines (Red Bird Press), Shhh (ELJ Publications), and Loss Angeles (Short Story America Press), which has been honored by the Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Best Book, and International Book Awards. His poetry collection, May I Have This Dance? (Black Magic Media), is slated for publication in December of 2017. : mathieucailler.com