Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Legacy

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I'm afraid you'll have nightmares
as I did -- the red
spotlights licking the heads

of children walking down Kemp Road West
before Ultraman's feet smash the concrete
on a search for tender scalps and veins

that ruins Chucky Green's pool party;
and Steve M, one-eyed
from the basement hour with his father's gun

behind you on the high dive,
his toes dripping and cracking
as he mutters

and the water creaks cold below.
Or maybe the goldfish who calls you
Murderer, opening her mistaken mouth

inside your grilled cheese
while a relentless bee
circles the flagpole by your

wrist. I'm afraid being small
will flatten you against
Spite's windshield, against that

planetary meanness
inevitable as Bethie next door
with her fistful of sticks

and her stamina, now turning the ball
in her slow hands,
ready to hand down a verdict

in the thick swingset dark. Don't try
the indifferent crickets,
the man who's not Marjie's father

smoking his misery on her front curb --
nobody cares about justice,
about what it means to your soft bones.

I'm afraid that your bones will bend inward
as you unlearn the mercy
of green apples and cats behind glass.

And I'm afraid that like me, you will look into
a crystal tray the color of a lake and see
your parents forgetting you

after a glassy night of wine and red meat
and boarding a train for Canada
whose hot engine sprawl drowns out

the babysitter's name. Know this:
I will not forget. No yellow soup
or trilled music will do it,

no nectarine kiss will make me release
the rainstone smell of your smooth
backyard arms,

your broken-saucer laugh.
And if the wallclocks all transform
into rotting panther mouths,

my kiss will close them. But
I won't be on the swings at recess,
so love, keep your fingers moving

and your pockets full of rocks.


Sally Rosen Kindred is a mother of two boys and author of Garnet Lanterns, winner of the 2005 Anabiosis Press Chapbook Contest. She received a 2007 Maryland State Arts Council Artist Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Passages North, and Spoon River Poetry Review, and her poem “American Sweetgum” was runner-up for Ruminate’s 2008 Janet McCabe Poetry Prize.


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