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mount vesuvius with lips

Julie Berry
From:   The Walnut-Cracking Machine.


i loved your white rain downspout hairwashing like the black and white mother on tv you were always in another room getting ready to blow mount vesuvius with lips of red hair shiny as the coal under the railroad bridge next door never ever go there you said while soot settled on the windowsills we pressed and cajoled the orange-eyed margarine bags into a spreadable consistency you and dad tossed them from the doorway of the kitchen across the living room back and forth over jackie's playpen

how strange and faraway you seem now and would have seemed then if i had known what mothers are capable of your cigarettes burned slim brown stains on the edges of everything i always knew where you had been

the summer of sponge baths at the kitchen sink and long hot visits to the beach the night you said your love affair was just another reason to feel guilty our father cried a little his mother his brother running up the grassy slope to the house our grandfather idling outside in the pick-up

you must
have been
so lonely

you scare me mom more than nuclear war or the inevitability of carcinogens you scare me so much my shoes fly off my father's shoes fly off the car upside-down in a ditch outside of town and me waking up without a scratch among the unearthly undulations of a let-go raspberry patch



Julie Berry's works copyright © to the author.


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