I drive my mother home because the train
is late, because her hands shake, because

my brother doing push-ups after he lost
a bet had all of us fearing the explosion

in his chest and what are family reunions for?
Food.  Too much wine.  A kickball in the gut.

When I pulled the folding chair from its bag,
unused for a year, a nest of mice tumbled out

all stolen cotton fluff, shredded paper, trembling
like a dropped heart in the grass.  The mother,

a baby still attached to her milk, ran for it,
watched the rest of the day from a tree’s branches

her babies scattered and blind.  We discussed cruelty
and survival, circled our chairs like stagecoaches.

Isn’t each family a new frontier, in its way?
Spreading out into unknown places, each child

a satellite shot into the dark above.  My mother
wants me to spend the  night—such a long drive

to get her safely home—but the car is already
pointing away, has a full tank, I even bought

a coffee in the biggest size they sold just
so I could kiss her on the cheek and say no.

Suzanne ParkerSuzanne Parker is a winner of the Kinereth Gensler Book Award for her poetry collection, Viral (from Alice James Books, 2013), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and is on the National Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List of recommended books. Her work has recently appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Drunken Boat, Hunger Mountain, and BODY. Suzanne is the managing editor at MEAD: A Magazine of Literature and Libations and directs the creative writing program at Brookdale Community College in NJ.