Visiting Carole

I was not expecting

to see lake Michigan so blue

between tall scrapers casting

hooded shadows at 5:04

on St. Patrick’s day

You, crumpled in despair

between wrinkly pallid sheets,

fatigued, turning on your side,

a chore; talking, all the more

I wondered if I’m imposing

my presence on you

my being here

but you wanted me to stay

and we talked about folks at

work, my kids, the day I got

married and there was no

music so everyone sang —

Dan dan dadan, dan dan

dadan, dan dan dadan dadan

My fake wedding that has

lasted 15 years. I told you I

couldn’t think of any other

way to get married, and you

agreed, smiling, because

laughing would have hurt.

My mother was in a coma

same time last year, but I do

not dare remind you

two weeks I stayed with her,

almost every night, without

the privilege of “not wanting

to see her like this”

Not like my siblings who saw

her most days, some not her

best, often made her smile

when she wasn’t feeling up to it

We had honeymoon days, she

and I, the week-long

sweetness between us

lathered over past battles,

having discovered our

humanity across the ocean

That’s what distance does,

I suppose.

But you do not think you’ll

have that with your little one

No decided discoveries

between you two

Only nine and mutinous, and

you sulked over her

overextended iPad use, but I

promised you that things will

be alright, as if I’ve suddenly

become an expert on

childhood development, and

you simpered because that’s all

the energy you have for, and

we stayed silent together, as I

tidied up, arranged cold packs

and heat packs in a pile; threw

out used hand wipes and half-

eaten fruits as the sun sets on

the other side of Chicago,

leaving but a bar of faded

orange above the still lake.

About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Nanay, Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2016 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2009 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. ( She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
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