Lottery - Poem by Rasma Haidri
Everything my mother needs can be found at Woodman's:
cigarettes, milk, unsalted rice cakes, and six black bottles
of diet cola. I want to buy a lottery ticket she adds,
weaving stiff-kneed, half-blind, to the far corner,
near videos and packaged liquor.
Neither of us knows how to go about it. I fumble, rubbing in
the dots from numbers she scribbled on a scrap of cardboard.
I look at her familiar cursive, wondering where she got these numbers
that aren't our ages, our birthdays, her wedding anniversary.
That's six and a half million a year for life! , she says
of the man who won last winter, and I don't ask
how she figured the years left in his life.
Nor do I ask if the money could buy back her teeth and eyes,
her strong bones and lean flesh, the summers she played
squirt guns with us, and caught fireflies we froze and sold
to science for thirty cents a hundred. No one has claimed it! ,
she whispers, as if everything is still possible.
(first published in Prairie Schooner, University of Nebraska Press,1998)
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