by Ellen Saunders

Mother is wearing elastic waist pull up
slacks, flat sensible shoes.  Her hair
is thinning, her heart has weakened.
She begins to tell me about a dance
in the ballroom of the Coronado Hotel
in St. Louis where she wore open toed heels
a gold satin dress, her hair piled high
upon her head, and how she painted round rouge
circles on her cheeks.  Today she’s tired
after a trip to the mall, and sits to rest
her feet.  She complains about swollen ankles
and bouts of loneliness.  I’m set to go, but stay
for one last dance around a past so far
behind us, I can’t begin to understand it.

by Ellen Saunders

Mother’s 80th surprise party
in Cobb’s Mill Inn, where swans circle
in a weeded river.  The piano player,
Nate, happily pounds out her favorite songs
as she rises to dance with her seven children,
their spouses and offspring.  She kicks out one leg,
then the other, waving her hands from side to side,
as she reverts to the girl from the orphanage
and we become the siblings she never had.
Like the white flock outside the window,
we spent our youth circling through the thistles
of her childhood, trying to find our way.
I know this picture of innocence will be brief;
a girl must grow up, no matter what.


Ellen Saunders’ poetry has previously appeared in journals
Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Calyx, and Toronto
.  Her first chapbook, Masquerade, was published
by Methodist University’s Longleaf Press in 2013.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 11, Number 2
(Fall 2016)

Copyright © 2016
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.