Jennifer Gravley, “How to Talk to Your Mother”

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How to Talk to Your Mother

Ignore her. Say something smart. Shut your mouth. Turn your face to the wall. Be always in a different room when you cry. Ignore her questions. Clip your sentences bare. Allow her a goodbye when you leave. Wave from the car as she stands on the porch and then look ahead into traffic, opening your mouth to mumble-shout lyrics you can’t understand. Call your mother so she knows you’re alive. Call your mother and say uh-huh so she knows you’re there. Lie down on the bed with the phone. Fall asleep. Call your mother. Say uh-huh, uh-huh. Lie down on the bed and cry, a different room after. Ignore the impulse to call your mother. Prepare to talk to your mother. Clip out bits of your life. Call your mother. Uh-huh. Fall asleep and pretend you didn’t. Allow her a hello when you arrive. Tolerate her questions. Say something smart and regret it. Turn your face. Turn on the radio in the car. Wave. Call your mother so she knows you’re alive and in bed. Ignore the words you can’t clip bare. These words turn their faces to the wall. Call. Call your mother when dinner is about ready. Call your mother from work and say, I’m at work. Call your mother from your bed, poised to sleep or to cry. Ignore her as she talks. Ignore the impulse to question your mother. Call her. Waver. Ignore her as long as you can. Uh-huh. Call your mother so you know she’s alive.


Jennifer Gravley makes her way in Columbia, Missouri. She is a writer of sentences and a watcher of bad television. Her work has recently appeared in Sweet, Rat’s Ass Review, and Bayou Magazine, among others.


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