by Sue Mell
Nine seconds to warm the applesauce for my mother’s morning medication. To wrestle my fury, replace it with a light-hearted care. Even as a kid I shied away from her clinging hand; now her need for me is bottomless. Nine seconds to watch the red-bellied woodpecker hunch his body around the feeder, the sparrows scattering with bitter complaint. To mentally revise my steps for the most efficient diaper change—wipes here, Desitin there, the wastebasket cradled in the bars of the rolling table just so. Nine seconds to remember a time I had not taken this on. To ignore the man jogging freely past, his face mask dangling below his chin. To see the sunlight flicker as wind bends back the trailing spirea branches, setting tiny white petals adrift like snow. Then the beep of the microwave and on with the day.
Sue Mell is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and was a fellow in the 2020 BookEnds mentorship program. In addition to Cleaver Magazine, her work has appeared in Jellyfish Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Narrative Magazine, and Newtown Literary.