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Anna Karenina

My mother was long dead before
I was old enough to ask her
who she was. But I’m reading
Anna Karenina, which I recall
her burning through late nights
after a double shift, after
the insertion of suppositories
and the emptying of bedpans, after
she fried us up some pork chops
and opened a can of applesauce
and a can of hominy, and a can
of fruit cocktail. She’d sit down
with her cigarettes and red wine
and read these big novels
that took her away from thinking
all day about money and into
whatever Emma Bovary or
Elinor Dashwood was dealing with.
She disappeared into French
winters, she walked down
London streets or sat quietly
with Anna in her parlor.
I look around in the novel
for her cigarettes tonight,
her glass of wine. Anything
she might have left behind.

From the collection Central Air, available on Amazon.

Elegant woman reading Anna Karenina

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