“Our Mum can’t vote—she’s an alien”—
My sister sisters and I told campaigners in the mall
Who were handing out potholders political;
Mum took the red and blue potholders anyway:
We still have them, stained with stew and wine.
We’d grab her old dressing gown and tease,
“Are you from a different galaxy?”
Humming the Star Trek theme
Over the hissing of the kettle,
Using the tea mugs for starships.
She’s tell us Dad was really American,
And had an English surname anyhow,
When he sang Irish songs to us
Romanticizing the Irish—their persecution—
Serious, then winking over leftover lasagna.
Sometimes on St. Patrick’s Day
She’d dress me in orange—
See if she could get me out the door
Before Dad would notice: pinch her,
Then give me some green to wear.
In first grade I was put in speech therapy;
My teacher called Mum to confirm
And immediately found the source
Of my problem—I had British vowels:
I still stayed in therapy all that year.
Before I left for a year abroad in London,
Mum and I escaped Dad, work, and our town,
Drove down to Homer and ate at Land’s End;
Throwing bread to the seagulls she said,
“Say hello to England and Gran for me.”