Photo & Poem: Secrets

She attended church with joyless obligation,
lip-syncing hymns that praised suffering, with
dentures that never quite fit, never a genuine
smile. A few cigarettes in the station wagon on the

way home, then she made Sunday dinner; chicken,
mashed potatoes with beige gravy, and army-green
beans. There was plenty, but she always chose the
back piece, sometimes a wing, picking the at the

meat between the bones with her fingers. Mostly,
she stood at the kitchen sink staring out the window
to the broken cornstalks that chopped the monotony
of winter fields, an ashtray on the sill. After the farm,

there was a smaller window that looked out on the
adjoining carport in the trailer park. My mother
was nervous about the judgment of neighbors. Was
anxious about her husband’s temper. Was fearful

that her daughter was not enough like her. She told
us she quit smoking and spent her last twenty-five
years sneaking out to the shed behind her mobile
home several times a day, so no one would know.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm

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Anna Blake

15 thoughts on “Photo & Poem: Secrets”

  1. What is it about eating those chicken backs? As much as I encouraged my mother to eat something else at the Sunday dinner, and even offer to eat the back myself, she demured.

      • Hah, yes, I thought my family was normal and everyone else’s was nutty… until, at 24, I discovered the truth – that I’d simply been believing yet another of my mother’s delusions, and then I saw others’ families as if for the first time. I’ve been redefining normal ever since.

  2. One of the last things my mom told me was that I was the best daughter she could have hoped for. After she passed, I felt like I was the worst she could have had. Six years later, and still so much I need to say.

  3. I like this so much and can totally relate as I had a mother very similar to the woman so eloquently brought to life here. I am eternally grateful that when my step-father died, and my mom came to Texas to be closer to me, she blossomed and changed in many positive ways. She always had deep regrets and unfulfilled longings, but much happier the last 10 years of her life. She said out loud she was happier than she’d ever been ! I think the sunshine and new friends and NOT having a man to serve made her life much more pleasant.

    • So impressive and courageous of her to take that leap. Getting closer to that age, I am more aware of what it took. Good for both of you. Thanks, Sarah.

  4. Much of this hits close to home – not my mom, but myself & watching my daughter go thru some of the same. We have both come out the other side now – but I sure can identify bits & pieces of this poem. Sounds like many of us have the same memories and feelings. For myself – my horse & others along the way healed me!! Bet in that respect I’m not alone, am I?


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