For Mother’s Day
Famous to the woman at the China Buffet,
who hands my mother her takeout box
as if the carton is a delicate newborn
and adds, “I included extra fortune cookies
for you.” The woman takes out the latest
photos of her children and asks my mother
her opinion on the blue butterfly pin
in her daughters’ hair and their matching pigtails.
Famous to the woman working at the drug store,
who skims magazines with my mother
on Friday nights and whose daughter
is also away at school, dealing with her latest
research papers or boyfriend. Once, the woman
gave me a copy of Wuthering Heights,
saying she thought I might enjoy it. She asked
if I like butter pecan ice cream just as my mother does.
My mother receives free manicures at the salon.
The women suggest she come back to tell more jokes soon.
Men and women leave hydrangeas on her desk
when they finally meet her, the receptionist
they spoke to on the other end of the phone line.
My mother is also famous to me, famous
for teaching me small talk means so much
— famous as the woman who smiled back.
This poem was originally published in The Main Street Journal and on my website, christinebarba.com.