I am three
and where’s Aunt Catherine? She’ll be
waiting at our home for me.
Mama’s with this new man
who came to call when daddy ran
away and left her crying.
Now mama smiles and
they take me far away
from the city where I played
by the old church where mama prayed,
but daddy never came.
And they bring me to this house up on a hill
with all these steps to keep the river back, he says. Still,
I don’t move. Then mama takes my hand and tells
me this is where we’ll
live, where we will sleep but daddy’s never been.
And where’s Aunt Catherine?
She’ll be waiting at our home.
Mud Flap Blues
You dared me to make musical words
at the drop of a hat, or the flash
of your eye on the next unsuspecting object
in this rainy Saturday afternoon scene, beyond
the dripping-windows restaurant
where we linger.
I want to hold onto you, delay
the journey to my sister’s side.
I want to hold onto her, restrain
her steady departure. But she is sliding
from my grasp like a smooth glass of water
about to shatter into a thousand fragments of pain.
Through my tears I see your eyes
light upon the truck swimming into view
splaying urban mud in all directions.
I hear your gentle voice say mud flaps
giving me something to hold onto.