Joan Leotta

The Conversation

“My daughter comes and goes,” Mom says.
“I am your daughter,” I announce.
I stand by her straight green chair
and take her hand in mine.
Her head turns toward me
But her eyes stare without focus.

Bending toward her, I ask.
“Would you like a drink of water?’
“My daughter comes and goes,” she answers.
From her pink plastic pitcher,
I pour the water into a cup.
I pour until I am empty.

I place the cup in her hand,
closing her fingers around it, one by one.
She raises the water to open lips,
but tilts the cup too soon.
She wants to drink,
but cannot find her mouth.

I mop the spill and get more water.
I raise the fresh cup to her lips.
She smiles, sips, and slips her hand over mine.
“My daughter comes and goes,” she says.
“My mother too, ” I answer,
hug her hard and kiss her.


Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She has published or has work forthcoming inRed Wolf , Knox Literary Magazine, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch and in a previous edition of Postcard Poems and Prose. In addition to her work as an award-winning journalist for the Sun News and other papers, short story writer, author of four novels, Joan performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash,NC, where she walks the beach with husband Joe and collects shells, pressed pennies and memories. You can check out her facebook page at

“The Conversation” was originally published in the Fall 1997 issue of The New Press Literary Quarterly