Favorite Creative Nonfiction: 2nd Quarter 2021

Central Park 2016 – ©Charlotte Hamrick

Moms. I don’t know about sons and mothers but I can tell you a bit about daughters and mothers. I can tell you it’s rarely an uncomplicated relationship. We love our moms in most cases but we don’t understand her. We may think we do but she lived a whole other life before us, a life we will never know.

The writers of five of these Creative Nonfiction pieces share bits of their moms with us. Sometimes just a mention, sometimes a heavy presence. Always a mystery. The last is written by a mom, a light-hearted Covid-themed piece that made me laugh. Enjoy.

The Finch Hunter by Barlow Adams in Reckon Review

I could hear her crying behind me while she spanked me. It was the only time she ever spanked me that I didn’t shed a tear. I was too scared, too embarrassed, too ashamed of the suffering I had conjured in her. She had been irritated at me before, even angry, but never hurt, never crushed. I didn’t know I had that power, not sure she did either, and the day we found out was terrible for us both.

We Give, and We Give, and We Give So Much by Exodus Oktavia Brownlow in JMWW

When you fold yourself over the sink, I fold myself over my lap.
When you fold yourself over to pour, I fold myself over to pray.
When you fold yourself over the sink where your rounded belly presses against its edge, you say my name.

Paper Crane by Kira Homsher in Pithead Chapel

My mom cried all day when she found out about his death, somehow managing to avoid me in our small one-story house. She was on and off the phone, murmuring quiet horrors to friends whose responses only made her cry more. I was afraid to find out what had upset her and therefore kept to myself, marching toys up and down the pink stairs of my dollhouse.

10 Vows, Mostly Broken by Alina Stefanescu on her personal website

It is American Easter. My friends carry their baskets like bouquets – some have their first and middle names embroidered along the edge of pink-and-white checkered fabric. Since my mom did not send a basket to school, the teacher lends me a plastic bag. My name is Dollar General. The girls with the cheaper baskets laugh loudest when a girl with a fancy basket jokes about Dollar General. They laugh to win the favor of the powerful girl, which is always the one that has the fanciest basket.

Therapy by Jamy Bond in (mac)ro(mic)

9. Did your mother wake you before dawn, press her pale finger to your lips, slip you into the backseat of a car, drive for miles with the headlights off, dye your hair in a gas station bathroom on the outskirts of Frisco, change your name to Lisa and tell you that Darleen, the girl you thought you were back in Dallas, is dead? Yes/No

Me vs. Slugs: Pandemic Edition by Beth Ann Fennelly in Brevity

Two-thirds of my children accepted the bribe, a dime a slug, thrilled to be out past bedtime and armed with flashlights. The nine-year-old earned $2.60, the fourteen-year-old $4.10. But the next night they quit after only a buck a piece. “There aren’t any more,” they claimed the third night. But, oh, the slugs were there. I could feel them crawling in the tender hollow at the back of my neck.


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