It rained four days and then again, and then
the cactus rotted. The sun rose weary,
tired at dawn when I emerged, wet
and howling, spoiling a sequin-splendid
silver-studded knee-high flapper’s dress.
She danced and danced, postponing
evening’s end until the night yielded. My father
grunted “You like your candy, Marie.”
Skin so white, hair so black and shiny.
My father grunted “Another damn girl.”
See this? the gardener points. Save this.
But no. Too late to uproot memories
embedded like a truth, albeit false,
rotted in my grievance-box like paper
plates for cake after the party ended
and my mother took me home wet
and squalling, wrapped in sequins
and permanently hungry.
It doesn’t matter now. Easily death
presented himself to her as a blue-eyed
suitor offering a box of chocolates.
Perhaps death was the only heart-
shaped box she yearned for, homage
to her feckless smile, the radio playing
Benny Goodman songs, while she
washed dishes in the sink and danced
dreaming her silver-sequined dress.
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