by Dorothy Levine | Poetry | Spring 2021
Mama picks up maple leaves and ties stems together
the same motion used to tie my shoes and undo necklace knots
her rings shine against dry, freckled skin.
“Isn’t this cool?” She shows the gap between her teeth.
“Yes, very cool.” I smile.
I feel her love seeping through
as she points out each tree to identify.
She wants to plant knowledge in my head
so when I walk through these same trees
lonely and homesick
I know what is around me:
ginkgo, sweetgum, maple—a red one, not sugar—
“This one is called an Ohio buckeye,” I tell her.
We pick out two buckeyes
one for her to take back on her plane
to rest on her nightstand and shrivel up to its hardened core
and one for me, to keep in a pocket until it’s forgotten.
But for now, she holds both in her palm.