The Orange Room Review

Accessible poetry of substance

Mother's Bunions

by Lalita Noronha

Each year, your bunions kept encroaching,
jutting out like boulders over a ledge,
brazen, unapologetic, skewing your helpless toes
that lay upon each other,
onion-skin thin over bone.
When I’d ask you what you’d like from America,
your answer was always the same—
“shoes, wide and soft, toes closed,
so I can walk to church.
These hard, paved roads hurt.”
Carrying tracings of your feet
I’d trudge through shoe stores,
measure and match up drawings to wide, round-toed flats,
and ask the attendant to stretch them some more.
In disbelief he’d shake his head.
On my last visit, you lay on your back,
legs bowed, heels on sheet,
big knobbed bunions protruding,
toes tilted, slanting.
I did not bring you shoes.
These days my feet throb
as if your bones still live in me,
as if my toes have learned the ways of yours,
as yours did from your mother’s feet before,
as if there is no other way to be.

Born in India, LALITA NORONHA is a research scientist, writer, poet and science teacher. Published in over sixty literary journals and anthologies, she is the author of a short story collection, “Where Monsoons Cry,” which won the Maryland Literary Arts Award. She has also received awards from the National League of American Pen Women and the Maryland State Arts Council (Individual Artist), among others.  She is a fiction editor for The Baltimore Review. Her website is