Rituals

By Suzanne Carey

Featured Art: Lorette with a Cup of Coffee by Henri Matisse

After my swim, I sit at a small table at Peet’s
with my medium sugar-free, low-fat, vanilla freddo
that the barista started as I walked in.
I push the whipped cream deep into the cup and worry

about my daughter, who drives
a perilously small car on the freeway,
and my son in New Orleans, too poor to drive,
whose illness frightens me most of all.

My father worried about us until the day he died.
When I came home from college, he insisted
I take the dog or my ten-year-old brother with me
when I drove at night. At eighty-six, he called me daily

from the nursing home to make sure I was okay.
I remember how my mother savored
half a nickel-box of licorice bits and a single cigarette
as she read each evening, waiting for us to come home,

and years later, how she devoured the Hershey bars
and Cokes Dad brought her every afternoon,
long after she had forgotten us all.


Suzanne Carey is a poet, photographer, and artist. Her poems and short prose have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and her chapbook, George Washington Is Dead, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. Her visual art has been exhibited in northern California and is in private collections throughout the country. Carey has BA and MBA degrees from Stanford University, where she worked as a financial manager for twenty-nine years.

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