I never read Mom’s cards
when she was alive —
not because
she never asked,
not because
of the power of perceived fate,
not because 
of differing philosophies
on sufferings and time, 
on mindset and agency. 
Not because one might predict
her looking, and hearing, then
declaring “no, no, this isn’t for me–“
as if an unseen influence muddled
the intention. 
It was that, but it’s also true
how difficult it is to read
for someone close to you, 
and I didn’t trust 
my tableside manner.
I didn’t want to fail her.
And didn’t want to know, myself. 
She helps when I work. 
Shows up, unfurling music notes
in Tea Leaves. She sends me
pop songs and show tunes, 
piano concertos. 
We rehearsed plenty, but never this:
I know if I ask, Mom 
will spell messages out in cards. 
I hesitate, remembering how 
often I did not understand her. 
Twelve years a professional, and when
will I be ready to ask Mom?
I don’t know but I know 
when I ask: