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Diane Thayer-Peterson



                        “I am surrounded by written characters I can’t interpret…
                        …I have gathered so many unreadable receipts.”
                                                Tomas Transtromer

In my mother’s junk drawer diane thayer-peterson
among abandoned belts
I found them – receipts
of her disappearance.
Dozens of fragments
of paper and used envelopes,
where she wrote last words
and hid them,
deeply burying her farewell.

An uneven scrawl
like the beginning cursive
of a second-grader
documents her departure:
she wrote her name
six times to remember
who she was,
each more illegible
than the last.

And farther back
written on a receipt
for something
long discarded,
I found her ironic
last words,
“I am…:
and a final signature,

the painful searching
for her self
in black ink
on white paper.


A Call to Love                                                                      

The call from the psych ward was no surprise.
Nor was her son’s request to get there fast.
She’d lived this path too long
for surprise or disappointment to distract her.
She’d lost her children
and husband one by one
to mental illness,
addiction, or death.
She knew the way to halfway houses,
to hospitals and group homes.
“One day at a time” was her mantra,
hoping for a bit of sunshine
but not expecting much.

Her son played chess with his roommate
as he waited after the phone call,
wearing a rare smile on his face.
The son who performed as concert violinist
until bi-polar disorder overturned his life,
the son who now shuffles through city streets
without the hope of keeping  jobs or friends.

He beamed as he told her
that she needed to meet someone--
his chess partner’s father,
a good man that he knew she‘d like.
The son watched his mom’s eyes light up
as the good man took her hand in greeting.

Sometimes Cupid finds us in unlikely places
and alters not the framework of our lives,
but the way sunlight flows through a window,
and surprises us with unexpected love.
“Checkmate” the son called to his roommate
and they each smiled,
knowing that the king and the queen
had both won this match.