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Maureen Sherbondy

The Teens

The teens are stuck with I

inscribed on their tongues.

They believe they woke

as queens and kings.

Sometimes they assume

mother means servant

and father equals groundskeeper

and worker bee.

But then someone says No

and steals chunks from the heart.

At night they become adults,

drunk and lost, debt in their fists.

They wander, wondering why

the castle vanished with the moon.


The barista writes Mourne on my coffee cup.

This day invites grieving even though

recently that old coffin slammed shut.

I believe in signs—messages from strangers,

that expected equation of three deaths in a queue.

Once, a friend’s daughter wandered

room to room in a dream. A nest

of mothers nurtured the deceased teen.

I passed the image along to the grief-festering woman.

She hugged me, said others had sent similar scenes.

Swallowing caffeine, I sink in the seat

replete with ghosts. The entire ride home

my fingers try to erase Mourne from my drink.


Maureen Sherbondy's forthcoming book is The Body Remembers. Her work has appeared in New York Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, Calyx, and other journals. She lives in Durham, NC.


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