Blackout a finalist for 2018 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize Honoring Jake Adam York

Every Morning, Maddie

we meet for coffee
diner windows flush with dawn
she comes in from the street
we share a plate of bacon strips
my once vegetarian child
never this old


I'm driving her to the methadone clinic
these rain damp streets a maze
of traffic cones and sideways signs
we go right at the railroad crossing
I don't ask where she's living
anymore


nowadays its NPR in the car
neither of us listening
I'd like to know her favorite song
as if she could hand me a burned CD
as if we could just waltz it all back
she has no phone


almost 90 mornings clean
her shiny black hair unwinding
all tight skin and darting eyes
her thin knees clutching the seat
somewhere between urgency
and nonchalance


I've come to know this place
people milling around the clinic
there's a Chinese take-out
a burned-out doughnut shop
a storefront church
and then a space comes free
and I let her out

First published in Mothers Always Write, 2016.