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  • Writer's pictureAmber Shockley


What ticked inside my mother’s mother’s

brain to keep her calm enough to do the dishes

by hand? I won’t let this be another modern-day

poem about serotonin when it wants to be about

ancestral anger, about my mother’s breast

cancer, about my grandmother’s yellow house

dress with the pocket, about pockets –

the pockets of my brain that leak serotonin,

my mother’s breast the surgeon left behind,

a ticking pocket, leaking fluid, the calm

house my mother grew up in, her mother

seething like a kettle on a gas stove, hands

in suds, a drying cloth soured near the sink.

What do you think we kept private, all three

of us – what do you think we keep quiet

and tucked away until the steam

screams from an ultrasound machine?


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