What My Mother Should Have Told Me

The tree will have its limbs
torn off, and you can do nothing

about it. Rain is more delicate
than sun. Every summer vacation

we had together will become
a scar you love. Taking the plastic

canister back to the bank’s drive-
through lane is good practice

for humility. You will not need
nor want humility, but you will have

it forced on you, and for more years
than you ever believed you would

live. Memory is like honeysuckle:
sweet-smelling and invasive.

You will love so much, your
nightmares will be about loss and

drowning. When you have to
mow the lawn, don’t sit down

to write a poem. Just go outside
and hope the blades are sharp enough.


Katherine Riegel is the author of Letters to Colin Firth, What the Mouth Was Made For, and Castaway. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Brevity, The Lascaux Review, The OffingOrionTin House, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and poetry editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection.