Nobody to Hold Her Back – by Atma Frans

Mama pulls down the attic ladder.
Smell of dust and moth balls.
I tug on her apron strings. I want to play.
Clothespins click and clack.
Papa’s shirts float down—flat gulls
that crumple in her basket.
Alone on a shelf, a vase,
sea snakes frozen in its porcelain.
Their skins gleam wet.
Don’t touch that!
It’s a wedding present from Yvonne.

Mama tells me how they would swim
in the canal after work.
Jumped right off the bridge.
How she leapt. Wind in her hair.
Mama sighs. I had to stop
when I got married.

That’s how it was in those days.
I help fold the bed sheets,
my arms surprised at their weight.

Woman wearing jeans, sitting on a the edge of a dock with her bare feet in the water
Photo by Krists Luhaers

Atma Frans, originally from Belgium, lives in Gibsons, BC, Canada. She teaches classes that connect people with creativity, imagination and play. Her poems and stories have have been long-listed for contests as well as published internationally in literary journals. Find her at:


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