Life is the river your father drowned in
When the tailings dike failed,
Or his friend died in the mineshaft,
Or some such thing
that your mother won’t say.

It is lunchtime in the house that smells of cigarettes and mildewed laundry and damp basement, ashes wafting from the polyolefin couch and green sculpted shag carpet.

Gott in Himmel, shouts the mother, eat over your plate!
The child watches tv on the carpet and mindlessly eats a salmon sandwich, crunching the bones and spraying crumbs.
The German shepherd next door howls mournfully for love, tied outside forever,
As its owner watches children play from his bedroom window.
He has no clothes on.
The mother is busy spraying air fresh and talking on the phone
as her child plays in the backyard,
And the child will become you,
Searching downriver for escape.

Published in Black Bear Review, December 2021.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s