The National Catholic Review
Michael Mack
Why my mother chopped off her hair,
followed me to the school bus stop
that morning in second grade,
I didn’t know. Or why

she bent down sobbing
don’t let go of my hand.
How long did we stand by the 7-11?
Other kids hushed, watching.

When the bus clunked to a stop
I climbed on last, grabbed a seat in back.
My mother outside, hand curled on my window,
her face a blur

as the bus jerked away.
The kid beside me punched my arm:
Who was that man with you
crying so hard?

I said I didn’t know.
Three times I swore I don’t know him.

Michael Mack graduated from the writing program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and have aired on National Public Radio.

Comments

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Juniper Jameson | 3/20/2008 - 11:22pm
A tragically beautiful glimpse at one of those defining "coming of age" moments in a child's life. FYI, an internet search revealed that Michael Mack has a website at: http://www.michaelmacklive.com This poem seems to be part of a longer series about his mother's life with schizophrenia. It looks like Mack has been touring with this work to increase public understanding about mental illness. As someone whose own family has faced issues like this, I can only say bravo!

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