The Gift

Contest, Poetry

Awarded Third Place in the 2019 Ada Limón Autumn Poetry Contest

Once, I gave my mother a memoir, I Just Lately / Started Buying Wings. There was a mother in it / like my mother’s mother: cold then slightly warmer / as my mother grew, as her tennis shoes climbed / closer to gas pedal and brake

Poetry by Lucas Jorgensen


Once, I gave my mother a memoir, I Just Lately
Started Buying Wings
. There was a mother in it
like my mother’s mother: cold then slightly warmer
as my mother grew, as her tennis shoes climbed
closer to gas pedal and brake (for nights
her mother drank). My mother is more of a mother
to her mother than her mother is to her.
They have both said it. The book was a thank you
I didn’t know how to speak. For not being
the mother in the book, her mother. My life,
its relative soft. Giving me a love she never received, 
as alien and hot between her fingers as a star
when she fed it to me. Never running away
to Florida. Crying with me when I broke my arm.
Pulling the pins out after it healed, swelled over. 
Even the memory of those red holes radiates warmth
around the pain. For three years after I gave
it to her, the book sat on my mother’s desk—
pictures, papers, dog hair overtaking it
the way kudzu devours power poles. Where 
was a book’s time with three jobs 
and three featherless boys, shut-eyed 
in the nest. It’s a wonder she has time 
for them, for me. No matter. Now there’s only this, 
small enough to wad in your cheek like a stick
of mint gum and chew between shifts.


Lucas Jorgensen is the recipient of the Sassaman Undergraduate Creative Writing Award from Florida State University and is currently an MFA candidate at New York University. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from *ellipsis… literature & art, Swamp Ape Review,* *8 Poems, *and elsewhere. He is a huge fan of Ada Limón and is ecstatic that “The Gift” was selected as a finalist for an award honoring her.


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