My prose poem His Mother in the Bello Gardens is up at Sheila-Na-Gig today:
His Mother in the Bello Gardens
When he visits his mother in the Bello Gardens, she doesn’t know who he is; he doesn’t know who she is for that matter, but he pretends. It’s expected. “Look it’s your son” chirps the attendant whose name is Sheridan. What have they done with his mother?
When he was a boy she gave him pet names, raspberries in his ears; he loved the wetness of them, the buzzing sound. His laughter could fill the outdoors. She named the birds for him. The trees. The blades of grass. He called her Mommy, then Mom. Later, she always wore whatever present he brought her, sweater from Filene’s upstairs, not the basement, not for his blessed Mommy/Mom; perfume he knew she didn’t really like, but he liked to smell it on her; it reminded him of the vastness of the backyard when he was young, Mommy searching for her lost boy hiding behind the large oak tree with the branch that held his swing, trying not to laugh. She wore his sweaters and perfume and one year a funny Easter bonnet, ears and all.
The son is surprised every time he visits her just a random old lady; they all look alike, smell alike; all the sons look alike too, well fed, red-faced, confused in the atrium, and the attendants named Sheridan or Casper or Malachi, in the Bello Gardens on a sunny day in December.
Dotty LeMieux’s work has appeared in Rise Up Review, Painted Bride, Writers Resist, Gyroscope, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetica Review, Poetry and Covid and other publications.