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I Called To Ask My Mother

by Sami Schalk

How so much bad can happen
so fast to one person, one church-going,
choir-singing, cat-loving woman.
She says only God knows.
But I want to know
when that answer
stops being good enough
for the women in my family
who do good-good-good
and never say no.
I want to know
when this God we pray to
on Sundays before dinner,
stops seeming so gift-giving,
so bountiful to Diane,
eldest dutiful daughter,
when in two years
this God takes her
husband by heart attack,
job by recession,
kidney by cancer
and later the lungs,
the very breath
she so thankfully,
faithfully exhaled
when the doctors said
they got it all, left kidney
removed whole, leaving only
a fresh scar that crisscrossed
the one from the birth of her son.
I ask my mother again
how so much bad can happen
so fast to one person.
She sighs and cannot
give me an answer we both believe.

Sami Schalk is a feminist poet from Southgate, Kentucky. Sami is a Cave Canem fellow and member of Women Writing for (a) Change. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CC&D, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Battered Suitcase, Gargoyle Magazine and elsewhere. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Indiana University in Gender Studies.