Ellen Forder


A disagreement at a

bus-stop snowballing

into a row.

Spiraling into separate paths home.

An olive branch of a phone call. I snapped

the branch before I realized I had bent it back too far.

An already bought birthday present flung into my lap

on the school bus.

Years of distance.

Years of silence.

We really needed each other.

I remember it so vividly,

and yet I don’t recall at all

the reaching out, the gentle tiptoeing back.

Less intense, but stronger.

Never mentioned, this slight shadow,

this shade that keeps our tempers cool. It hovers over us.

Not a black cloud, but a reminder to be careful.

A reminder that something that bends too far,

can surprise you with a sharp


Stretching between us is a branch. It’s wrapped in bandages

woven out of memories. We pieced it back together,

bound it up.

It’s healed, but with a scar to remind us not to bend it too far back.


Teetering on the edge of something, possibly brilliant.

Perhaps not. I miss my ancestors. The bevy.

Craving their wisdom, I’d exasperate them all.

Too chatty and skittish,

Yet too inclined to sit at length.

No match for their wash days and family gatherings.

No knitting or crotchet for me.

No grit to scrub a floor, a range, a husband’s back.

I have it all.



A home of my own.

My family anda career.

Would they envy me? Fleetingly, yes.

But after a while, I think, they would see I’m no more than them.

Far less substance than in their day.

They are the real women in my blood.

They won wars and fought on many a domestic front.

They are the women who built me.

How I wish I had known them.

They could teach me so much about my world.


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