PARENTS

  1. most days now, i worry about my parents
  2. i worry that their joints bother them too much
  3. i worry about the growing number of pills in the cabinet
  4. i worry that they miss me and their own mother and father, brothers and sisters
  5. i worry that they're feeling alone or aimless
  6. it's such a punch to the stomach to realize that you're older now and you finally understand
  7. and you know that every excessive check in was out of concern that you were safe
  8. and every punishment was because they wanted you to grow up a good person
  9. and that the pressure they put on you was because they wanted you to learn to be better than them
  10. some days i look into the mirror and marvel at how i contain so much of my parents
  11. every freckle on my body is a reminder of my mom and her dotted face
  12. and of those long ago days where she lathered her hands with sunscreen and scrubbed at my cheeks in an attempt to prevent the inevitable
  13. some days i hear my own laugh like im outside of my own body
  14. and i count the ways i sound exactly like her
  15. the whispery giggles that come with shy interactions and nervous conversation
  16. the deep cackles that jar my own ears
  17. some days i glance over at my own reflection as i walk down the street, hands in pockets, feet slightly dragging, head always a little down
  18. and i see my dad, exactly
  19. it feels like the wind's been knocked out of me, most days, to remember that my parents are mortal
  20. and that days spent sitting by my mother's feet, gazing up at her kneading hands, kneeling by the oven to peer at the bread through the warm screen, are so far away
  21. i wish for a time machine where my hands wouldn't so quickly slip out of my father's
  22. where my middle school tongue was kinder to my mother
  23. where my high school eyes wouldn't roll at so much as a door shut too soon
  24. where my college fingers picked up the phone to call home a few more times
  25. and i would tell my parents that i love them, im so grateful for them, i hope ive made them proud