Lucy Sutton/The Observer

Mom called, left a message about a shotgun

and the reasons she has to use one.

She might as well have told me dinner’s in the fridge,

the way she sounded so casual, like more than

her life wasn’t at stake, like it was for our sakes

she’d spare us her frozen dinners and bad jokes,

leave that up to Dad during commercial breaks.


I press nine, save the message, don’t know why

I’d want to hear a grown woman’s desperation again,

but I do. She comes right after a keg-soaked voicemail

from a high school friend who misses me enough

to only call when he won’t remember doing so,

“So it goes”—the refrain of Mom’s generation,

and I guess her pessimism makes sense in context,

but what fun is that? I’ll call back, tell her I’m

fine. Finer than she—not in competition, but as some

beacon of hope or whatever she needs to stop daydreaming

about the night she’ll finally end it all with a black period

we’ll make an ellipsis of “what do we do now?”—

which is yet to be asked, and answered.