by Sarah Russell

My mother was a hard woman,
not given to hugs or laughter.
But once when I was quite sick —
I must have been 4 or 5 — she sat
beside my bed, and I felt her cool,
soft fingers on my forehead, easing
my headache, brushing back my hair,
until I finally slept. That was when I knew
she loved me, though she didn’t say it,
then, or ever.

PAINTING: Young mother contemplating her sleeping child in candlelight by Albrecht Anker (1875).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I only remember scraps of my childhood, mostly from family stories. But I remember these few moments vividly.

Russell copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell’s poetry and fiction have been published in Rattle, Kentucky Review, Misfit Magazine, Rusty Truck, Third Wednesday, and many other journals and anthologies. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has two poetry collections published by Kelsay Books, I lost summer somewhere and Today and Other Seasons. She blogs at