Lifting the sheet and summer blanket high
While the morning air struggles to billow them underneath
As they sink onto the bedframe,
When you taught a five-year-old gangly girl
Who adored you so and loved your hugs swallowing hurt and worry
Into your arms strengthened by years of cleaning
And softened by years of cooking and tasting for seven
And rounded by the weight of bringing five into this world
(A labor you called sweet and easy),
How to make a bed just so,
Smoothing out the lines to a crisp and fresh clean.
Now she allows the sheet to wrinkle and the blanket to hold stains,
A reminder that one year you are gone,
As her childhood and your protective love.
The author with her mom when Carol visited to say goodbye. Saturday, 21 June 2014. Falls Church, Virginia.
The poet as a little girl, about 1968, in Ocean City, New Jersey.
She remembers hiding in the closet
Afraid to come out for her punishment
Of nothing, really, to be punished for –
Curious, playful, childlike with open eyes
Rather than the closed ones you tried with all your might
To force on her.
And now you come at her again
In the guise of another
In this Sunday of waiting until Monday
When she must face her punishment
For simply trying her best and somehow
Not compensating for your lack.
Please don’t hurt this little girl
Is just a Tahoe daydream
Washed onto my shores.
I have a real heart
That bleeds from the wounds you strike
When you yell at me.
Painter by the bridge:
Life strokes over old canvas,
Betraying old friends.