Jonathan Bracker

Waiting Mother, Coming Son


Her forty year-old son has not yet seen the apartment house

She had moved into without his help after his father died.

Its lobby is only half enclosed. Where two walls

Would normally be is open space, so if you walk through

At night it can be quite cold, especially now in November.


Believing he might be unable without her help to find

On what floor how high up she lives, and down which corridor to proceed,

She has come down early to greet him. After an ordeal of time, wondering

Did his plane arrive late, she shivers on the thick stone bench. Past eleven

He arrives and heads for the elevators, not looking around


Until a rustling sound in the noiseless lobby catches his ear. He turns

And sees his mother struggling to stand on numbed legs, looking

Inexplicably like some large bird dashed by storm against a breakwater wall.

Embarrassed—what if someone should see?—and angry she had not trusted

He could find his way to her on his own, at his age, shaken by her apparent


Vulnerability, giving the perfunctory hug but holding on longer than usual,

He blurts out automatically, “Why did you come down? You shouldn’t have,

It wasn’t necessary. I am perfectly able—” and she cuts him off with “I know

But I wanted to be sure. You haven’t been here before.” He is taller than she

But feels small. With one hand he indicates the opened elevator.  He gets in, after.

Jonathan Bracker is the author of eight poetry collections, the latest of which, from Seven Kitchens Press, is Attending Junior High. His Concerning Poetry: Poems About Poetry was published this year by Upper Hand Press. He is the editor of Bright Cages: The Selected Poems of Christopher Morley (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1965), co-author with Mark Wallach of Christopher Morley (Twayne Press, 1976), and editor of A Little Patch of Shepherd’s-Thyme: Prose Passages of Thomas Hardy Arranged As Verse, (Moving Finger Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Northwest, Southern Poetry Review, and other periodicals.

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