Nancy Klepsch reading at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY

“My Mother was Effortlessly Cool” by Nancy Klepsch

My mother was effortlessly cool

She could put on pink lipstick while my father drove the red Rambler
over every pothole in Brooklyn
She defied polio so I suspect she could leap tall
buildings in a single bound if her left foot didn’t drag a bit
when she stood on her tippy toes
Let’s face it: she survived one incurable disease
and was felled by another but she defied
death longer than anyone I know
Today I am seven years younger than she
when she died and I am so old

We never got to grow old together
so I search for her in between the notes
of a James Taylor song about friendship
clean my house spit spot while Kenny Rankin sings “Groovin,”
Even now I can picture her barefoot feet
on the car dashboard as she handed out homemade
sandwiches to her chirping baby girls
My second toe spatulated just like hers
a sure sign that I was of her
Made in Joan
Her absence has emptied into all of my days
especially those birthdays ending in 0’s or
when the light is just so when I sit
on the beach while mothers and daughters
walk by laughing talking in that
Conspiratorial way the breeze
blowing their long hair eastward
I pretend she is with me
I hold my own hand as if it was in hers
and maybe just maybe I have become the woman
she always wanted me to be


Nancy Klepsch is a poet and a teacher who co-hosts 2nd Sunday @ 2 open mic for poetry and prose. god must be a boogie man is her first book of poetry and is available from her website at

This poem won Second Prize in the 2022 HVWG Poetry Contest.

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