Outside my father cultivates the Rosa Damascena, pressed up against the stucco. I pull at the petals when he turns his back, lays down his garden shears and sighs. I rub the petals between my fingers growing long as tentacles. Inside my mother curls on the couch, the slumber of the dead. Only the birth of a baby, an end to the bombing of Hanoi, or the appearance of a ghost sibling could rouse her. I walk inside through the back door with sunspots in my eyes, leaving my father to his sorrowful ruminations, the vines, and the small dirt patch where he buries regret. I ventriloquize my mother, make her mouth move all over her face, and she tells me all the stories she knows by heart. My sister is curled in the crook of her legs in her Fat Albert t-shirt and shorts. She laughs at my efforts, but softly, like a secret because my mother’s sleep is catching. I am growing into a weariness that is destined to plague me. I want to make the skeletons in the closet dance, to rouse life into those who left us in the not so distant past. I’d festoon the front porch and welcome everyone one of them , because all of the seasons, so far, had been relatively good to me. My father stands between the kitchen and the living room, where my mother rouses herself, but just a bit. Let her sleep, he tells me, the mantra, it seems, of the year and every year after. I will forever brace myself for the changing of the seasons. That tentative step from one year to the next. The awareness of every clock that takes me closer to the ulterior and mysterious motives of time.
Michelle Reale is the author of several poetry collections, including Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and Blood Memory (Idea Press, 2021).
The Ekphrastic Review
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