“Off the trampoline!” Mom yelled.
I pretended not to hear and just jounced:
up and down, up and down, until
the crinkled lines on her forehead told me
I had pushed as far as she would allow.
It was near dusk as I staggered in the house,
knowing my destiny was a scolding—and
chores. Tonight’s first order of business was
wiping down the door I had just stepped
past and making the prismed glass sparkle.
I was entranced by transmuted images of sunlight
dancing against the wall, the last rays of the day
becoming beautiful rainbow paints when not blocked
by the old sleeveless t-shirt I held in my hand—I
controlled this adagio, though the colors chose their partners.
The shirt had been Dad’s; so had the song I softly sang.
I was careful that Mother not hear any happy tune winding
its way down the hall and risk infecting her broken
mentality—a grief she carried since Father was buried.
She has a mawkishly sick addiction to anger and sadness.
Yes I’m careful. Fearful really. I’ve learned not to emit much joy
in her presence—apparently I’m not yet allowed to feel such.
But kids like me still need to hear bedtime stories and fairy tales
to ensure sweet slumber. So I choose to hope that playmates
will knock on this door tomorrow. Not an undertaker.
And I clean this door, eviscerating the prints of the man
with a bony hand who was wearing the heather gray tie.
By now, Mom is standing next to me inspecting my work.
“I’ve never seen the glass shine so brightly,” she says, almost
sounding proud of the job I’ve done and the girl she has raised.