Fall 2008, Volume 5

Poetry by Allison Whittenberg


When my mother was young, she was rich
So rich that her father bought her a coat
Straight from a well known department store
At ten after closing time by knocking on the window
And shaking a hand full of money at the manager.
It was a prepossessing coat.
Georgia clay red with a furry collar.
When my mother got a little older, her family was poor
And her mother and her had to share a coat. One had to wait for the
other to come in, order to go out.
It was a hideous coat.
Dull, black like something a pallbearer would wear.
When mother passed away,
My sister and I quarrel over her belongings
One coat, particularly.
It was chic
camel-colored, cinching at the waist.
My father threw salt,
Saying it looked better on me
Through persistence, I won it.
She was a disguised, mostly silent woman.
What I know of my mother, I glean from thread.

Feeling Their Age

often I wonder
where my real father is
when he is right in front of me
who is
this silver haired man
with the blurry voice
this man with an uneven gait
deep lines around his mouth
where is
the man that appeared
strong, tall
the man who could flatten hills
arrange stars
mother has a new child
someone else to clothe
she is old, but recognizable
she gets up early
still paints her lips red
she bakes biscuits
parcels out medication in tins
her brown skin sags
her hands are smooth

BIO:  Allison Whittenberg has given poetry readings in New York, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. She is the author of two novels SWEET THANG, HOLLYWOOD AND MAINE, and LIFE IS FINE (Random House 2006, 2007, 2008). allisonwhittenberg.com