“Reasons Why I Love My Mother” by Marisa Donnelly

2013 Salveson Prize in Poetry 

I am

not what you say

though my scrambled eggs

are always runny,

corners of wheat toast brown,

Purple and yellow

are complimentary colors—

I forgot this

just as I failed to remember

it was cranberry you wanted

not orange juice.

Our front staircase

now holds carpet casualties—

spilled egg,

shards of the kitchen china,

small pieces: gold, red, blue.

You woke, sitting up on your hands

commotion called you from sleep

my failed attempt

of breakfast in bed.

I am not a disappointment—

ribbons, balloons, streamers

handwritten notes on napkins

paper signs happy mother’s day

Forgiveness speaks loudest

in our shared fork,

two lip prints on the orange juice glass.


“Saccharine” by Nicole Grisham


By Nicole Grisham

Remember that time we were
in that room and I looked you
in the eyes?
Straight up blue on brown action and I
could see your thoughts ticking up there,
thinking about what I was thinking about (or maybe
not at all, the light
was kind of crappy).
You could probably smell the sickeningly sweet scent
of adoration coming off of me like that shitty
perfumed lotion that always comes in vanilla or brown sugar.
So warm and heady, like a hug from a brown mother
or the first taste
of sweet potato pie, creamy and decadent like the chocolate
swirl of fudge in vanilla bean ice cream.
Or melted marshmallow on gooey Hershey’s chocolate squished between
cinnamon graham crackers.
The round wave of sandalwood and cocoa butter,
always sticking on your clothes once you leave the store, always easily