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Revelations in a Burger Chef
by Amie Heasley

Mother      your quiet face.
I knew what you were really saying.

Dad wasn’t on business.
Dad wasn’t coming back.
You told us at Burger Chef.
My brother giggled between French fries.
I squirted ketchup, red and salty like your heart.
Men in white paper hats cleaned up our trash.

Mother      your quiet face.
You wanted to take us to Disneyworld.

But Dad was already there.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: My school picture from first grade in Plainwell, Michigan. My grandmother (father’s mother) made the sundress I am wearing.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Our communication style stems from the communication style of our parents, whether we’d like to admit or dispel that fact. When I wrote this poem, I was nearing the end of my MFA, and had been given an exercise to “borrow” a line from one of the poets we’d studied over the course of the semester. I chose Jean Valentine’s poem “Lines from a Story” and the line “Mother    your quiet face” as a springboard for this particular poem. I hoped my poem would echo both the struggle to communicate and the strength to endure of Valentine’s poem, while giving a glimpse of one of the most pivotal conversations I recall my mother having with me as a child.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amie Heasley graduated with an MFA in fiction from Western Michigan University in 2006. Most recently, her fiction has appeared online at Petrichor, The Boiler Journal, Corium, Juked, and Prick of The Spindle. She, along with her beloved husband, daughter, and dog, calls Kalamazoo home.