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Getting in Touch with Mother
Jan Epton Seale


 With no snappy top, spigot, or pump,
her Jergens bottle, wide-mouthed, glass-hipped,
might be too generous at her tip and shake,
give her far more lotion than she
could possibly be beautiful in,
even counting neck and elbows.
She’d bid me, stuck in the doorway,
”Come. Give me your hands.”

I’d spring forward, lay palms to hers,
thrilled at this invitation to high fives.
Then she’d coat me with her excess,
first slathering on the glamour milk,
now feeling of my hands like fine fabrics,
now massaging, squeezing,
me knowing to stay utterly limp,
and finally, trolling each finger
as my giggles rose no-holds-barred
from this daring grown-up wetness. 

Our lovely handwrestling complete,
and fresh out of her emergency,
all almond-scented and smooth
I’d stand alone again.

This poem first appeared in Artword Quarterly (Fall, 1998).
Used here with the author’s permission.

Jan Epton Seale was the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate. She is the author of nine volumes of poetry, two books of short fiction, three volumes of nonfiction, and nine children's books. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, Jan taught English and creative writing at the university level for many years and now teaches memoir and creative writing workshops. Mother of three sons and grandmother of four grandsons, Jan lives in South Texas, where she volunteers at a local environmental center. Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
I was not lathered with Jergens but vaseline--same The memory is full of love.
Posted 02/17/2015 10:09 PM
My mother did the same with the excess lotion; and, yes, it was Jergen's. Thank you for the poem.
Posted 02/17/2015 10:38 AM
I really love this one! Touches me deeply.
Posted 02/17/2015 08:22 AM
fuddygail Oh, Jan..What a delicious memory...I hadn't read that poem before and can climb right in....
Posted 02/17/2015 12:15 AM

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