the fourth mug

by Angel P., 14

as mom prepares breakfast
I call my sister over to the kitchen table
mom fills up four mugs
though there were only three with a family label

mom heads off to work
sister and I stay home staring at the ceiling not having any cable
they say there’s always a head of the house
the one that carries money, something that was previously stable

mom gets home late
she tucks us in bed as she points towards the new cradle

morning comes, mugs fill up once more
preparing my morning bagel
I wonder
why does my mom talk at night, crying, something happened, something fatal last April?

I’m going to tell father
I’ve been waiting, before he left he said
“I’ll be back, and be like you, an angel.”

Red Bank, New Jersey