My Mother’s Closet by David J. Thompson

I’m squeezed into a picnic table
with a bunch of people I don’t know,
dragged to this party by my sister
for free beer and food. In between
bites of a fat cheeseburger, I hear
the bald guy in the Yankees t-shirt
at the end of the table say, So, Ronnie,
how you been? Haven’t seen you
in a while. I’m doing better these days,
answers the guy opposite me. He’s got
the blown dry hair of an 80’s porn star,
now streaked with grey by the last thirty years.
Both my parents died last winter from cancer,
he continues after wiping spots of mustard
from his mustache, only six weeks apart,
so that was real tough. The whole table murmurs
I’m sorry, watches him take a sip of Diet Coke.
Yeah, he continues, they left me the house,
so I’ve been living back there since March.
It was weird at first being there all alone,
but now I’m sorta used to it. He takes some
potato chips off his plate and eats them slowly,
and while staring off over my shoulder
into the neighbors’ yard, Ronnie says almost dreamily,
Sometimes I go into my mother’s closet and look
through all her old dresses that are still hanging
there. Is that so weird? I feel the table become still,
all I can hear is the ballgame on tv coming
from inside the house.  The bald guy stands up,
says he’s going to go grab more beer for everyone.
I take a long, last swallow of Coors Light, shake
the can a little bit just to make sure it’s empty.
I look down at my plate, and push some cole slaw
around with my plastic fork. Looks pretty damn watery,
must be store-bought, I can’t help but think to myself.
Nowhere near as good as my mom used to make.

David J. Thompson grew up in Hyde Park, New York, and currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His latest poetry/photography chapbook, A World Without Horses, is available on Kindle. Please visit his photo website at

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