Cul de Sac

In Seattle, the middle was mounded with mulch;
my brother once dared me to walk up it barefoot.
Later, my father, in our rust-carpeted rec room,
tweezed out all my splinters, one by one.

My mother, to keep my mind off it, told me
to sing the ABCs. A to J, and then M, and then Z—
an impossible distance of tweezing, toe to heel,
one foot and then the other, as my brother,

in a shocked, dry whisper, said
I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.

In Dayton, the middle was open
for games of kickball, which I hated,
or spud, which I loved but can’t remember
how to play. Mostly, though, we roller skated,
my friend Jenni and me—around and around
in the middle, or across it to driveways,
each other’s, or even other people’s.

I had a jacket I was proud of: white
polyester satin, pastel rainbow-ribbed
at the neck, wrists and waist. Jenni and I

liked Olivia Newton-John, so that’s who I was:
a goddess angel queen on white skates,
flying across Xanadu, around and around.

Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was “middle.”


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