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Aunt Lucy and Mother Surprise Me with a Visit
Donna Hilbert


I dash frantic room to room
spread a bed, pick up toys,
kick dog bones into corners.
Before I can change my rumpled shirt
or brush my hair,
the dervishes rush the door.
Mother straightens every painting
in her path. Aunt Lucy arranges
knick-knacks on the mantle.
Mother suggests I fold laundry
as I go. Lucy says to try
some Mop and Glo. They’d
love to put my house in order
if they just had time to loiter.
Outside, the dogs drag trash across
the lawn. Of course, they see this
through my smudgy kitchen window.
I plop a can of tuna in a bowl,
whack celery, onion, pickle
to a furious fine mince, finish
with a squirt of mustard,
glop of mayo, and rip open a bag
of chips and call it lunch.
They eat. They split a Coke.
Then, out they whirl
as quickly as they came.
On the porch, kisses, quick goodbyes.
Then Mother runs her thumb
hard down my spine,
her wordless gesture says it all:
straighten up, young lady, it’s past time.

From Gravity: New and Selected Poems (Tebot Bach, 2018).
Used with permission.




Donna Hilbert writes and teaches private workshops from her home in Long Beach, California. A monthly contributor to the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual, her work is widely published in multiple languages and she is featured in the documentary, “Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story.” Donna's most recent collection is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, and she has several poems in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
Lori Levy:
Posted 05/08/2020 12:34 AM
Maryann Hurtt:
Thanks for the flashback, Donna! For my 21st birthday, my mother sent a huge package. I couldn�t wait to open it. It was a vacuum cleaner...sigh. Love how poetry brings back memories... funny and otherwise.
Posted 05/07/2020 03:34 PM
Yes! I love the ecnomy of "spread a bed."
Posted 05/07/2020 02:05 PM
I was glad to read this today, as it lifted my spirits. Love and humor, what better combination can there be?
Posted 05/07/2020 12:56 PM
Larry Schug:
Well, I gave my mother much bigger challenges than a clean house but I think she's responsible for penchant to have a clean kitchen when I wake up in the morning. It's clean when I go to bed and if the cats don't mess it up it stays that way. I appreciate any poem that brings my mom to mind. thank you.
Posted 05/07/2020 12:09 PM
But could mom write a perfect poem?
Posted 05/07/2020 11:17 AM
Jean Colonomos-1:
When anyone got up from the couch, my mother would immediately fluff the pillows back to presentable shape. When my family comes to visit I start to do the same thing, then stop myself midstream.
Posted 05/07/2020 10:30 AM
michael escoubas:
Still laughing at this winsome and Oh-so-true picture of "real" life! Thank you, Donna.
Posted 05/07/2020 10:21 AM
Can't imagine what my mom would make of my house! We were not to walk on the carpet in the livingroom after it was vacuumed as it was only for guests. Wonderfully written, of course!
Posted 05/07/2020 10:19 AM
Beautifully written, Donna.The sly rhymes in the text make this poem a pleasure to read.
Posted 05/07/2020 09:35 AM
I am now round-shouldered!
Posted 05/07/2020 09:07 AM
Posted 05/07/2020 08:43 AM
Sarah Russell:
Oh boy, can I relate!
Posted 05/07/2020 08:41 AM
Just jumped over to Donna Hilbert's Web site to learn more and signed up for a workshop. I love YDP because so often it leads me elsewhere, in the best possible way. Thank you.
Posted 05/07/2020 08:33 AM
Luscious language. I love �smudges.� Fun.
Posted 05/07/2020 08:32 AM
Wow. What a whirlwind of a poem, so well written, reflecting a whirlwind of a visit. Enjoyed that half rhyme of order and loiter, the great pacing, the picky descriptions right down to the making of the tuna (with mustard?), and that last great noon-verbal gestural criticism by mom. Wonderful. Randy
Posted 05/07/2020 08:30 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
Another well crafted poem by Donna Hilbert. A delightful reminder that we are not all perfect housekeepers like our mothers and we don't mind a visit now and then to remind us.
Posted 05/07/2020 08:22 AM

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