We’ll Always Have Parents

By MARY JO SALTER

 

It isn’t what he said in Casablanca

and it isn’t strictly true. Nonetheless

we’ll always have them, much as we have Paris. 

They’re in our baggage, or perhaps are baggage

of the old-fashioned type, before the wheels,

which we remember when we pack for Paris.

Or don’t remember. Paris doesn’t know

if you’re thinking of it. Neither do your parents,

although they’ll say you ought to visit more,

as if they were as interesting as Paris.

Both Paris and your parents are as dead

and as alive as what’s inside your head.

Meanwhile, those lovers, younger every year

(because with every rerun we get older),

persuade us less, for all their cigarettes

and shining unshed tears about the joy

of Paris blurring in their rear view mirror,

that they’ve surpassed us in sophistication.

Granted, they were born before our parents

but don’t they seem by now, Bogart and Bergman,

like our own children? Think how we could help!

We could ban their late nights, keep them home

the whole time, and prevent their ill-starred romance!

Here’s looking at us, Kid. You’ll thank your parents.

 

[Purchase Issue 13 here]

Mary Jo Salter’s eighth book of poems, The Surveyors, will be published by Knopf in 2017. She is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and lives in Baltimore.

Julia PikeWe’ll Always Have Parents

Related Posts

Front door in Dublin

Ask a Local: Caitriona Lally, Dublin, Ireland

CAITRIONA LALLY
Dublin is very much a port city and even though many of the former dockworkers lost their jobs with the arrival of industrialisation, I think it still has a port feel. There are still a few early houses near the docks—pubs that open early for workers coming off nightshifts.

The Girls cover

Friday Reads: July 2017

Cline’s depiction of and insight into the mindset of preteen girls – the loneliness, insecurity, frustration – felt as clear and honest as the experience itself was twenty years ago. There is plenty of fiction that delves into longing between lovers, but I can’t think of another book I’ve read that discards that trope to focus on the desire and need for girls to connect with other girls, to find acceptance and family there.

road

Letter to a Ghost

SAMANTHA ALLEN
When I was twelve I was admitted to the hospital in Tehachapi. We shared a room, the only one open in the rural clinic. You handcuffed to the bed, me straining for air.