Must I carry you forever with your slim ankles
and thin wrists, high hard belly
precariously wrapped in terry cloth, blue balls
dangling, accordion flesh puckering? According
to Mom you were never blue a day in your life.
An easy lie. What to make of your delicate
folding of the tea towel while the sink drained,
your nightly escape upstairs, cursing Hogan’s
Heroes, smirking at My Three Sons while we
sprawled around the blue glow? You sat
in the gloom, your room lit by the one cheap
lamp, smoke coiling from the weighted stand,
the brown glass filling with grey ash.
What did you see in those pages of legs splayed,
rumps flared, lips wet with Vaseline?
The sharp dark V’s an armchair adventure
in solitary confinement. Did you know your own sadness?
You of the Broadway matinee, manufactured razzmatazz,
heartstrings plucked by musicians in the pit, lit
by those ghostly bulbs. Mom refused
the staged sentiment in no uncertain terms.
So you took me in your overheated car, stopping
at Stuckey’s for roadside sweets, the nut-studded caramel
sticking in my throat, choking me with the weight
of filling your need, so mixed in my mind with the gentle
man you were. I found it hard to breathe in the front seat:
the hissing heater, steaming shoes and ungloved hands,
the twenty questions all used up turned me gasping
to the window, where I watched signs blur, trees
curve, taillights swerve and heard you whistle
happily as our car sped homeward carrying us
separately together into the tunneling dark.
Patrice Boyer Claeys revved up her creative writing at the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio after fifteen years in publishing and PR. She joined Plumb Line Poets, of Evanston, Illinois, and completed her first book, Lovely Daughter of the Shattering, which is now seeking a publisher. Recent work has appeared in Beech Street Review, Bird’s Thumb, and Light: A Journal of Photography & Poetry, where she was featured artist. Patrice reads for and contributes to the Mom Egg Review and has been nominated for Best of the Net. She lives in Chicago with her husband and has two adult daughters.