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Getting in Touch with Mother
Jan Epton Seale


 With no snappy top, spigot, or pump,
her Jergens bottle, wide-mouthed, glass-hipped,
might be too generous at her tip and shake,
give her far more lotion than she
could possibly be beautiful in,
even counting neck and elbows.
She’d bid me, stuck in the doorway,
”Come. Give me your hands.”

I’d spring forward, lay palms to hers,
thrilled at this invitation to high fives.
Then she’d coat me with her excess,
first slathering on the glamour milk,
now feeling of my hands like fine fabrics,
now massaging, squeezing,
me knowing to stay utterly limp,
and finally, trolling each finger
as my giggles rose no-holds-barred
from this daring grown-up wetness. 

Our lovely handwrestling complete,
and fresh out of her emergency,
all almond-scented and smooth
I’d stand alone again.

This poem first appeared in Artword Quarterly (Fall, 1998).
Used here with the author’s permission.




Jan Seale, the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate, lives seven miles from the Texas-Mexico border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, the latest title being Nature Nurture Neither, a biography of her family's immersion in the arts. Jan believes poetry puts the shine and finish on the world of feeling and spirit. Learn more about her at



Post New Comment:
I was not lathered with Jergens but vaseline--same The memory is full of love.
Posted 02/17/2015 10:09 PM
My mother did the same with the excess lotion; and, yes, it was Jergen's. Thank you for the poem.
Posted 02/17/2015 10:38 AM
I really love this one! Touches me deeply.
Posted 02/17/2015 08:22 AM
fuddygail Oh, Jan..What a delicious memory...I hadn't read that poem before and can climb right in....
Posted 02/17/2015 12:15 AM

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