Cindy King

When Your Mother Asks If You’re Seeing Anyone and No Longer Means a Therapist

It’s tough to find a cardiologist who dates
patients from the Ward of Cracked Hearts, but
there’s always the bariatric surgeon
who thinks you could drop a few pounds. If it’s too late
for the death row inmate, try the child predator, you too
could date the would-be senator, or even the President of the United States.
If you can’t have the priest, don’t give up.
You too could fall for the charismatic cult leader. You too
could try the celibate polygamist. Admittedly,
you’d have to share, and you wouldn’t know for sure
if you’re actually dating, or whether you’d ever “consummate,”
but who’s in it for that kind of thing anyway, unless,
of course, you’d finally give me a grandchild.
You didn’t spend years in braces only to settle
for a dental assistant, did you?
We didn’t correct your overbite just so you could eat
your dinners alone. It took sacrifice to cultivate your eligibility, years
of home perms and hand-me-downs, decades of clearance rack cosmetics.
And yet the people you called friends were privileged
enough to discover your brain and not your body. BTW, did
you see that profile pic of the head floating in a jar?
Though I’m not sure if it’s really enough to love.
But love you will as everyone does
toward infinite grace, the axe
into the olive branch, verisimilitude
to abstraction, even the sarcophagus toward mummy dust,
the intellect to its dementia. And I will support you as the mantle
above the fireplace supports the little box, house
to your spouse’s ashes.

Author Portrait

Cindy King’s work has appeared in The Sun, Callaloo, North American Review, African American Review, American Literary Review, TriQuarterly, Black Bird, River Styx, Black Warrior, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. You can hear her online on American Weekend at weekendamerica.publicradio.org, rhinopoetry.org, and at cortlandreview.com. Her freelance work can be found at artsATL.com. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up swimming in the shadows of the hyperboloid cooling towers on the shores of Lake Erie. She currently lives in Utah, where she is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Dixie State University and editor of The Southern Quill.