Poems by Shana Ross


Moms Don’t Forget the Rice

Once, actually, I did forget to make the rice. We were having guests the kind you still want to impress; we had a salad, a soup, two curries and no rice, or at least, when the doorbell rang and I realized, no rice that could be edible in less than 30 minutes. Sometimes moms forget to make rice. It’s a thing that happens in the world, to someone somewhere all the time. It’s even understandable in mortal terms but let’s face it, unless it was the kind of forgetting that is an act of god, meaning an honest to god accident, moms don’t forget the rice. In our house, dads forget rice at least half the time because they don’t like it all that much, like, they have a little because it seems like they should but they never scoop extra on their plate to eat with a ladle of just sauce at the end, soupy glorious, so it’s an afterthought for dads to make it in the first place. Moms don’t forget things like rice. If the meal is supposed to have it she will start it early so that it can steam while everything else is in progress and the timing will be right so no one has to wait and the food hits the table all at once and she will remember how much to make so that there is the right amount of extra. Moms have to be thinking at least that far in advance but right now I am only thinking about the next ninety minutes and what I am thinking is that I may forget to make the rice this time because I am tired and anxious and grieving and it’s the usual except tonight it’s heavier, like how people from the mountains feel about the air down here unless it’s the other way around. Sometimes I confuse gravity and oxygen which explains the tension in my left shoulder better than “slept wrong.” If I forget the rice I can write this poem instead. If I forget the rice, my husband and kid will be extra kind so I know they are not mad and they understand that these things happen and they are grateful for the delicious curry with no onion and no cilantro both of which I love and they appreciate how hard I work which is historically true and, if measured in the magnitude of agony and effort, still true but I don’t want to get into it with them I want to learn to take a compliment and to accept care and maybe even to be mothered myself on occasion. It’s easier to make the rice. I think I will go ahead and do that. It will pack well for lunch and no one will have to worry if I’m OK.


Ars Poetica


 I would write about my mother but I’m not angry with her. She is the impression a bird leaves on the window glass, a dusty ghost print of wings, one small clump of pin feathers, glued with a single drop of gore. Do you dare look in the beds beneath to find the body? In case, you say, it was stunned and needs help. I’ve only ever found the corpse, limp and unbloodied, everything but an animating force. On a bird you might call it a soul, on a mother you’d want it to be something less spiritual, less universal. A domesticated word for the thing that makes you care to fly. If you walk into a room of poets and say “I have a story about a wire monkey mother,” everyone will want to tell it, and no one will tell it quite right. Or wrong. For a mother to be interruptible she has to exist linearly. Perhaps you string her between tin cans and pull taut – tighter, tighter, so tight a word or two can buzz from one to the other, and we will agree to call this act of distortion: play.


Shana Ross is a recent transplant to Edmonton, Alberta and Treaty Six Territory.  Qui transtulit sustinet.  Her work has recently appeared in Cutbank Literary Journal, Vassar Review, Gigantic Sequins, Meetinghouse Magazine and more.  She met her husband in a co-ed percussion fraternity and their child is befittingly delightful, dramatic, and loud.



Back to Table of Contents for Parents | Poetry Edition