Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
How to Spackle and Sand

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First, remove the curtains that you hastily stitched
a decade ago to hide the damage.
Next, sweep away spiders and crisp curled worms
that have made a home, then a deathbed, on the sills.
Let sunlight grapple with grime to enter the basement
through rectangular glass, unbarred panes.
Sand the wooden window frames gnawed to raw ridges
by a frantic squirrel that dropped down the coal stovepipe
then spent days seeking a way out.
Apply spackle to drywall dents made by toys you threw,
gunpowder frustration set off by mixing children with desire
for your own uncluttered days.
Clear the space of Tinker Toys and Barbies,
ready it for teens.

Sand the frames and walls some more,
spackle dust drifting down upon your toes.
Finally, give up trying to make any of it smooth.
It will never be smooth.
Once you paint them white, though, the window frames will be
wind-shaved snow ridges,
backbones of mountains, surrounding ice:
either freeze frames of failure or
mirrored plaques given for bringing us all across the tundra.
Your choice: highly dependent on
the angle, the light.

Alison Condie Jaenicke’s stories, essays, and poems have been featured in such publications as Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers; Breathing the Same Air: An East Tennessee Anthology; Literary Lunch; and Gargoyle Magazine. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two teenaged children.

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Alison: I love the images in this poem. It speaks so me so much about I feel about the transition (of being a mother) of kids moving from childhood to teen -- it depends on the light, the day, my frame of mind. Thank you for this beautiful poem.
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