My Mother Loves

My mother loves an underdog, she loves
an old-fashioned donut, a cigarette,
a Diet Sprite, a cigarette, a Diet Sprite.
My mother loves the homeliest hometown
weekly newspaper; she'll read the whole thing
and I think she also loves the raving kooks
she knows by name on the editorial pages.
My mother loves to tell you how it is.
"The interesting thing is," and fill in
a proclamation, brassy certainty.
My mother feigns a love of questions.
My mother loves sudoku, a properly
loaded dishwasher, loves rearranging
the plates you put in all wrong. I love that
too, I think, but not as much as she.
My mother loves women's basketball
and cigarettes, and gin and lime and tonic
"in a tall glass," she shows you how tall
with her hands. She loves the Constitution.
A true believer, she’ll press
a pocket version of it into your hand.
She loves to filibuster, and though
the cigarettes are shredding her voice
and breath, my mother loves best
the last word and will have it.



Sometimes I’m sure it’s common
as air: everywhere, infusing all we do.

The intentional reach for a particular
unbound tendril of hair, for the shiny, the soft,

the way our senses long for all the world,
the tastes, the touches, all our lives long.

Or the automatic reach, reach, reach
of breathing, each breath seizing

what it wants. Other times,
I’m convinced desire is much more rare:

the wide, white expanse of porcelain
surrounding the tiny, exquisite morsel it offers,

or the massive tumbler wrapped around
the merest whisper of whiskey, a sip

slender enough to make you want more
of what's scarce, what's forbidden.

Too laden a plate, too full a cup—
no room left for the fullness

of your hunger itself, no space
for the surfeit of your wanting.

Liz Ahl

Liz Ahl is the author of A Case for Solace (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022) and Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2017), as well as several chapbooks, including A Thirst That's Partly Mine, winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook prize. Individual poems have appeared recently in Revolute, New Verse News, and TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics. She lives in Holderness, New Hampshire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top