Laura Ann Reed

A Rattling of Broken Bells

What was it my mother wanted, hated me
for not giving her? She willed me
all her artwork, including that lithograph
she made of me naked, fifteen.
I watched her make the sketch,
no love in her eyes.

There was nothing of myself
I recognized in that misshapen face,
that distorted form reclining on a couch.

I tried to hide my pain when she showed me
the finished lithograph.
I recall her irritation when I failed to praise it.
I remember she said nothing
when I began to cry.

When she died, I shrouded
the lithograph in brown paper
and bound it with heavy twine.
Later, I gave it to a woman moving
out of town. After this, I knew
my mother could hurt me no further—
though no matter how I wish it weren’t,
this too is pain.

Laura Ann Reed received a dual BA in French/Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently completed Master’s Degree Programs in the Performing Arts, and Psychology. She was a dancer in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to assuming the role of Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband now reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, and has appeared or is forthcoming in MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Ekphrastic Review, and Willawaw, among other journals.