“Sparrow” by Michael Mark

Michael Mark


What did you eat today, Mom?
She says tuna.
The correct answer is crust from a lemon
pound cake she shredded with her chewed fingers
then puzzled together. 
Is it night or day, Mom?
The window shades are pulled. People look
in, she thinks. Sometimes she peeks
from a corner to tell me. Not today.
How old are you, Mom?
What’s this color?
I steady her on the bathroom scale.
What do you think you weigh, Mom?
Like a bird, she answers.
79 pounds.
I tuck her clothes but there’s nothing
to hold onto. She cries the belt is breaking her;
she sticks herself undoing the safety pins.
What’s smaller than extra small?
This question’s meant for me.
Like a bird, she answers.

from Visiting Her in Queens Is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet
2022 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner


Michael Mark: “I think of this collection as a family photo album. As my mother’s dementia progresses, each poem is at once a snapshot, a foreshadowing and a memory. And like memories, each is revealing, accurate, and blurry.​” (web)

Rattle Logo