by Joni Abilene

My mother always said I had the best posture. I remember sitting at my Catholic Confirmation in a beautiful pink dress and she whispered in my ear, “Joni, you sit straighter than all the other girls.” Sometimes when I feel myself slouching forward I’ll hear her words, so delighted, so proud, and I will pull my spine up like a telephone pole. So many times I’ve bent over just to fit in; I’ve curled and curled, shoulders rounded, stomach tripling over itself so my belly button is lost, and then wake from the lazy habit; I feel her hand tickling up my vertebrae with such love, and I forgo wanting to disappear into smallness and normalcy. Funny how someone’s words, such little forgettable words, can filter into your mind so deeply. My mother’s words, playing in my heart past all the bitter rejections of her other words. Past the lost embraces and denials. Her words, like a breath. Like an apology.