My mother and I sit side by side on the bus
between the village and Skipton.
She, stately in her beige trench—
herringbone buttons. Long legs, long arms.
Hands in her lap. I loved the blue veins,
subdermal streams, running up to her capable fingers.
Nails always half-manicured. Fingers always poised—
to stretch a canvas, to cook a feast.
Hands always gesturing. Joy/joylessness.
Always restless. Always ready.
To hold some book—Rich, Woolf, Walker, Plath.
To keep us close or at a distance.
I remember that summer, running through a patch of low brush.
The tongues of stinging nettles devoured my bare toes.
The moment of laughter, just before. My brother beside me.
My mother’s on-again man trailing, chasing us.
I remember thick cream on milk in glass bottles that came
to our doorstep. Long, dull strolls on the heathered moors.
The big sky always near. The ripe scent of wool. I remember
my mother’s hands. I remember them in mine.
By Lee Peterson
Lee Peterson is an American poet and educator. She is the author of Rooms and Fields: Dramatic Monologues from the War in Bosnia (The Kent State University Press), which won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. Peterson’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Arts & Letters, Bellingham Review, Faultline, North American Review, Nimrod International, Thrush, The Seattle Review, Salamander, Southern Humanities Review, and Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2018 River Styx International Poetry Contest.