Issue > Poetry
Deborah Allbritain

Deborah Allbritain

Deborah Allbritain is a writer living in San Diego, California. Her publications and awards include The Antioch Review, The Michigan Review, Mainstreet Rag, Sycamore Review, Connecticut River Review, and The Cimarron Review. Her poetry has been anthologized in Stand Up Poetry: The Anthology, The Unmade Bed: Sensual Writing on Married Love (Harper Collins), The Book of Birth Poetry: An Eloquent and Ebullient Celebration of the Miracle of Life and In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop (Tilbury House). She has received two Pushcart Prize nominations in 2015. Her poem “The Fire” was a finalist for the Wabash Poetry Prize.  

Sparrow

When I can't sleep I open the nightstand drawer, lift my mother's
bed jacket to my face and breathe, her Nantucket powder

still folded into each yellow petal. Not the smell
of cancer that wafted through the room that night when the storm

blew the electrical and my sister leaned her forward in candlelight,
cut the thin blue nightgown down her still warm back

as I held the beautiful head and we gently urged my mother's new wings
into her winter robe. By the front door, the two boys from the mortuary

stood silent in their white button downs, black ties, soaked umbrellas
ticking on cold terrazzo. As I kissed mama on the forehead

smoothed her dove hair and snipped one grey curl: Wait over here honey,
one of them said and he zippered my tiny sparrow into plastic,

covered her with forest green. I wish I could tell you that
I didn't press my body over her, that they didn't have to pull me off

with that single curl clutched in my hand, that when the big doors of the van
slammed, I didn't run barefoot down the street,

that when the rain came faster and faster I never knelt in the gutter,  
fell onto my heels, their shouts from the house, just a sucking wind.

But that was years ago and tonight when I fold her bed jacket back in the drawer
the smell of rain, of flowers, what I feared losing most, isn't lost.

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