The policeman is here. I’m five in braids.
The officer doesn’t see me. The landlady shook,
shook, shook her dust mop over laundry my mother hung
from our first floor porch. I’m invisible. Hiding in place.
Seventy years on, the sheets are still wet on the line.
The calm man in blue hasn’t left.
Potatoes boil on the stove. Her sobs are audible.
Now in this spring of disguise and wait, I think
if life ends in a cough and a sweat, there is so much to lose.
No need to walk back into that kitchen.
The chances of loss accumulate: the sadness of rust,
the futility of longing, the stupidity of chewing gum,
the freedom of seeds, fingers that don’t add up.
I’m masked. Alert for headache, shortness of breath,
lungs filling up.
The kettle is calling. The sausage is thawing.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 1.
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