I Love You, Catherine, but I Don’t Like You
your words sounded fair at the time—
but they hung like ghosts in the air,
like Dad’s work shirts filed headless
on the basement line.
I’d watch for larks out the window at lunch
after buttoning all those shoulders onto hangers
in the breezeless dark.
Blocks of garages lined the back alley,
as the winter sky at noon
froze into stone like the face of the moon.
Icy hands through vents
forced me into sweaters,
tucked me down into empty naps.
were you happy at home, homeschooling me
as you drowned in depression’s relentless sea?
And when I’d curl, five o’clock-groggy
in the vinyl recliner, you’d vacuum,
the house aroused to talk show applause.
Still the silence of afternoon
wrapped its fists at your throat,
like rope waiting in the coat closet
to tie off your suffering,
your hope only in Heaven—
but without you, Mom,
the engine of home would grind still.
Eyes lost in the driveway for Daddy to come,
the dust glowing gold in the afternoon sun.