Honorable mention, prose: 'Is. Was. Is.'
Judge's comment: I was so struck by two lines: "A laugh that would make people gather." The use of the word gather was such a lovely surprise. The other that really got me thinking: "Strong women make a good fist of their marriages for the sake of those kids."
Today was my Mother's Birthday. I changed the tense from was to is ... and back again, a million times. She is gone. She is here. She is both a feeling in my bones and any one of the many tiny stars in the sky, unbelievably distant. Just now, in particular, I long to hear her voice. A longing like a dog's howl. Its echo is in my head, after the 36 years she has been gone. I hear her in my own voice, and most definitely in my sister's. It can be startling. I see her in my sister's face. In my brother's wit and humor. In my children, of course. I have her hands and feet, her Irish skin. We will never be completely without her. I imagine her sitting at the kitchen table, one leg tucked under, finishing her grocery list. She is talking on the phone. Twirling the cord. She laughs. That hearty open-mouthed laugh that would make people gather. Her voice lowers, hushed. She is confiding in her sister. A secret. A confession. Support. Difficult husbands? Heartbreaking kids? Strong women make a good fist of their marriages for the sake of those kids. Not for little ears to hear. She is making plans. She has chipped a nail. She pours a cup of coffee. Before gliding into the bathroom to "put on her face," she passes me and says "I love you Little Lin." She is bigger than life. Is. Was. Is. She is more than a tiny single star. She is everything. Happy Birthday Mom.