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 and anthologies. Her new chapbook, Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune, is due out this month from Finishing Line Press. She works as a campaign consultant and environmental lawyer in Northern California, the land of earthquakes and wildfires.
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
now, to have a mother he doesn’t know. Maybe it’s 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.