Conditionality – by Anne Britting Oleson


If my mother could see me now,
she would tell me to sit up straight,
to iron my clothes before I wore them,
to stop that sniffling, and blow my nose.

If my mother were listening in,
she’d shake her dark head in that way I knew so well,
tell me to stop being so self-righteous, that I’m
not as important as I think I am.

If she had not died twenty-eight years ago,
she could look on my forty-five-year-old face,
not so freckled now as it was then, and see
how her predictions for it were borne out–

how she’d told me then: you have the best
nose in all the family. I’d felt patrician,
flyaway hair and glasses notwithstanding.
My nose would take me places.

And if she could meet her grandchildren,
all with fine noses of their own, she would see
how fiercely they live in my days,
and know she at least taught me something.



Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely on four continents. She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM. She has published a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player (B Ink Publishing, 2016), and two poetry chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007) and The Beauty of It (2010). A third chapbook, Counting the Days, is forthcoming from Pink Girl Ink.

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