Vicki Mandell-King

 - Annie Lamott

All the girls in the family do it –
throw back our heads in laughter exposing
our necks, our throats. Helpless with it. 
It must be hereditary. Even our little one does it, 
sensing the alchemy. When we laugh till we cry
we merge, come close as one. 
The bodies that encase us dissolving
like salt or sugar in water with a quick stir.  
Today, after hours of foot stomping Nos!
she curls up in my arms and begs for a story
that will make us laugh till we hiccup.
Smiling, I say such moments arise
like magic and cannot be called up at will. 
Nancy, whose three sons died in separate accidents,
has adopted Lamott’s quote as her motto. 
How can she ever laugh? Then again, how can she not? 
Wisdom – that sorry consolation – bubbling up
from sorrow, thin-skinned, refracting light into prisms.   
I’m forever blowing bubbles, my father used to sing to me
long ago, pretty bubbles in the air.


Author's Commentary:  The inspiration for this poem is my love for and closeness with a grandchild. All my poems are inspired by my emotional responses to everything—relationship, nature, overheard conversations, a quote, happenings in the world. I try to avoid sentimentality and to let the poem be what it was meant to be—more universal than personal (we are all one) and to find its own surprising (even to me) ending.

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Vicki Mandell-King has been writing poetry for most of her life, even during a long legal career in criminal defense work. Her two published volumes of poetry are Tenacity of Lace and Shrinking into Infinite Sky. She and her husband have long lived in an old, constantly-tinkered-with Victorian in a small, vibrant town, and their son and his family live nearby.