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by Beth Kanter

My mother takes the hand of the nurse aide / the one who started last week / the one who is standing next to me / the one my mother looks in the eyes and asks / remember those cookies? / the ones I made for all your class parties / the ones with the blue and white sprinkles / I want my mother to take my hand / to look me in the eyes so I can say / yes / of course / how could I ever forget / the ones that started as a plastic-wrapped log / the ones that I sliced / baked / sprinkled / the ones I made while you slept / passed out on the couch / waking only long enough to say / what in god’s name are you doing in there / don’t burn my house down / if you miss the bus again you’ll have to walk / my mother brings the woman’s hand to her cracked lips / a kiss / a smile / the aide leaves / my mother starts scribbling on a notepad / the one that says “from the desk of” / although she no longer has a desk / or an oven / or a couch / only this room / a bed / a chair / and a call button she sometimes thinks is a telephone / my mother drifts off / snores / drools / sleeps / the paper falls from her hand / on it three words / I remember too.

Beth Kanter’s fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in a variety of publications including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Emerge Literary Journal, and Identity Theory. She won a UCLA James Kirkwood Literary Prize for her novel-in-progress, Paved With Gold. When not writing, she leads creative nonfiction workshops. Beth is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. You can find her online at or on Instagram @beekaekae.

Lead image: “blue and red heart shaped candies” (Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash)