Song of the Small Boats
When I retrace childhood I detect discount department stores
and grocery carts where
we wait in lines of werewolf women grasping polyester
robes and hand towels
in the New Year’s after sales. Then would come the kitchen table parade—
the dappled sea of Formica
with carrier bags overflowing like small boats
of wonder: lightly stained curtains and a faux alligator
belt, lace-up shoes. Add in: one coleus plant
not quite dead; a poncho.
Then once a month my mother would open the family album to reckon
accounts, balance allowances
for oil heat and phone bills; the air cold enough for corpses
to stay preserved in.
We lived it should be noted, frugally: no playroom to fly in,
no strong umbrellas.
My skin a foreign vessel of goose bumps. Department
stores the anchor, the temporary landing.