This poem won honorable mention in Poetry, in the 2015-2016 Maricopa County Community College District Creative Writing Student Competition.
Hid in a Soft-Sided Suitcase
From behind the leathery wheel
I felt caught up,
like a fish on a barbed hook
on the rear window of that blue-green sedan —
Even though I know it’s not her,
I tell myself to look away,
She does not live anymore
except in the lies of memories,
of a hundred slumber parties in her
blow-dried blond hair.
She only exists in hours-long chatter
on the corded house phone
while I tangled the coiled cable
and she vacuumed her mother’s carpets.
There were buttered popcorn weekends,
Sardines in the basement
where I hid in a soft-sided suitcase in the closet.
“The Scientist” somber prelude
rouses her to life again
in her father’s cigar-choked garage
lamenting her fallacious boyfriend.
She left pink cursive in the margins of my Bible.
I look up and still see her amusement.
We should have built houses side-by-side —
the kind without fences —
our daughters interlacing footprints in wet sand boxes,
melding outdoor birthday parties, with matching homemade superhero capes.
She is but a dust devil and
grit in my teeth as
I spit words out to God,
mentally pulling up the carpet fibers.
But we can’t all be mollusks.
Sometimes the things that hide inside
won’t ever become pearls.
And sometimes the flutter we were brave enough to reach for
merely grounds the wings of hope.