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Mama put the daisy in her mouth,
and began to chew it whole,
so I held out my hand to her
in that universal gesture
of mother to child, or child to mother,
and she spit it out, petal by petal,
while I stared at her eyes
instead of at the palm of my hand,
mesmerized by her confusion.
Earlier, I took a photo of her
as she held it, this white daisy,
thinking I might need a snapshot
to remember this afternoon.
It was my birthday, I was sharing:
a daisy and a piece of cake.
But the cake went untouched
the way Happy Birthday went unspoken.
Later I sang to myself in the car
as I drove home, my hand still wet
with my mother's bitter spit.

Felicia Mitchell's recent poetry collection is A MOTHER SPEAKS, A DAUGHTER LISTENS: Journeying Together Through Dementia (Wising Up Press, 2022). Poems have appeared in diverse publications, including Hospital Drive and the Examined Life Journal. 

published in Snapdragon Journal, Fall 2016

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