On the talk show, the psychologist was telling the guests,
three brothers, that they needed to work through their anger

at their parents in order to move on with their lives,
and I thought of how it would be if my sons characterized

me forever by my worst action, the meanest thing
I’d ever said. Not by the nights I’d cradled each

like a privilege in my tired arms, or listened anxiously
for their tires in the driveway. I pictured them writing poems

about how I’d hurt them, blaming me for crimes I didn’t
realize I’d committed, and achieving, in this expression,

a certain relief. And then I saw my father waiting
up on the old blue couch, needing me to return

as much as I had needed to go away, so oblivious
to what he’d done to me, he was almost innocent.

Sally Lipton Derringer was a manuscript finalist for the Tampa Review Prize, New Issues Prize, Poets Out Loud Prize, and a semifinalist for the Brittingham Prize. Her work has appeared in Poet Lore, Los Angeles Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Solstice, Nimrod, December, Journal of the American Medical Association, and others.

* * Sally Lipton Derringer is a three-time Musepaper Poem Prize winner! * *

Musepaper Poem Prizes #16, #33, #49

2 thoughts on “Relief”

  1. Such a mixture of images – the boys blaming “parents”, yet the mother feeling she is unfairly represented; the father, in retrospect, suddenly thrust in as a wayward thought. Was the point the casting of blame or the recognition of mistaken innocence?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top