Patrice Claeys

Teen Mom

“Do you love me?” she asks him, just two months
old and mouthing O’s to mimic speech. A bubble

of spit satisfies her. But the question orbits as she
smiles above his moon face. She dresses him

with care, cuing the blue of his sleeper to the flecks
on her acrylic nails—as if they’re off to a photo shoot

instead of the sofa. Her navel, so recently a dark
stain on an overripe gourd, now sports a dangling

charm, an open palm glinting against puckered
skin she tans each $5 Monday. She keeps her old

high school ways, stays up late to feed and watch TV.
In those days love couldn’t be trusted. Her anger flared

and guttered on street corners that offered noise
and cigarettes, boys in rusted Fords. Again she wants

to know, “Do you love me?” Attuned to her movements,
the little night owl swivels his wobbly head in a one-

eighty as she plops on the ottoman with the laptop.
“Do you love me?” she asks, for once without fear.


Patrice Boyer Claeys is enjoying the freedom of the empty nest. She thanks her writing group, Plumb Line Poets, for keeping her chiseling away. Her work has appeared in Mom Egg Review, Found Poetry Review, Blue Heron, The Avocet, ARDOR, the Aurorean, and Light, a Journal of Photography & Poetry, and is forthcoming in Bird’s Thumb. She reads for Mom Egg Review and was nominated for Best of the Net.