Vox Populi

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Andrea Hollander: The Before and the After

At the airport terminal the coarse sound

of wheeled suitcases, a toddler giggling,

running a few feet beyond his father.


A brown-haired woman at the kiosk

that sells last-minute magazines and candy.

I try not to gawk, but she looks like my mother.


I pull my own wheeled carry-on to Security,

lift it onto the conveyer belt, walk into the booth

and hold my hands above my head.


I am always going and going.

The way my mother did.


After she packed both our suitcases,

I’d sit on the stool in the master bathroom,

while my mother brushed my hair.


I’d stare into the mirror at our two faces

so much alike they could have been

a portrait: The Before and the After.


She’s been dead almost 50 years,

and I keep going and going.


From 35,000 feet I look down

at the clouds, the blue sky above so vital

before it blackens.


Then there it is again: just a hint

of her face in the airplane window

gazing back at me.


Copyright 2018 Andrea Hollander

Andrea Hollander moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011, after many years in the Arkansas Ozarks, where she ran a bed & breakfast for 15 years and served as the Writer-in-Residence at Lyon College for 22. Hollander’s 5th full-length poetry collection, Blue Mistaken for Sky, is due from Autumn House Press in September 2018. Her 4th was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; her 1st won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Hollander’s many other honors include the Vern Rutsala Award, an Oregon Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and two fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts.


Andrea Hollander

3 comments on “Andrea Hollander: The Before and the After

  1. nebula61
    May 17, 2018

    Reblogged this on Blog as if No One is Reading and commented:
    My teacher/mentor Andrea Hollander and her poetry magic.


  2. Janet smith
    May 15, 2018

    Wonderful poem by a great poet. Thanks for publishing it on Mother’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tricia Snell
    May 14, 2018

    Beautiful poem. The way we carry our mothers inside is so true, and so mysterious. We are, or we become, them in many ways…. their desires still burning inside us.

    Liked by 1 person

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