Six Months Later
Put on your shoes, my mother called to me,
waving a rolled up newspaper. We’re going
for a drive. I overhead her earlier saying
she had an itch and didn’t want to live
anymore in the house where my father died.
Riding in back of her boyfriend’s truck,
I held tight to the side to keep from sliding.
The blacktop disappeared behind a whirl of dirt,
the air filling with smells of dust and creosote.
My voice jumped with each rut and bump
as I sang O Susanna loud like my dad used to.
Peering into the cab, I studied my mother’s profile
trying to read her lips, the thumb she jerked
in my direction. I was going to rap the glass
and wave, but I suddenly felt they might ditch me
out here. Turning around, a swift gust cast a web
of hair across my face that made my eyes water.
With a lurch the desert scenery finally gave way
to recently surfaced streets lined with strip malls,
grocery stores, parks, and though I didn’t know it
yet, we passed what would soon be my new school.
Parked beside a row of model homes, I ignored
my mother’s pleas to hurry up. Instead, leaning
back, I absorbed the heat and sudden stillness,
broken only by the tick of the truck’s cooling engine,
and the flap of the banner strung high overhead—
its backwards letters spelling out Grand Opening.
First published in Hogtown