Excerpt: Folded Deck

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Yellow paint peeled away from a wooden frame of a crank out window in our kitchen, where I sat and stared from the table – remembering the child picking, stripping, and tapping at bubbles of color on a bedroom wall next to the kitchen.  I would watch as mother painted, father watched.

Fresh air enters a space called home. A room cluttered with extra chairs, an old toaster, brown spice rack, flowers which hung near the open window. Magnets on a refrigerator door telling others where you had been, before.

folded deckA flutter of air crosses my face, a touch, and fingers on my cheek. She is sitting here, directly across from me in her seat, at the kitchen table, next to the old gas stove.

Father, like clockwork, checked each burner and the pilot light.  From my bedroom I watched his palm touch metal to test for heat before turning on the night light.

Mother, you are here, sitting across from me, smoking a Chesterfield, and you just pushed those awkward blue eye glasses up toward your eyes, but soon, they will fall again, and you push them up, again. Then, lifting up a can of beer, sipping it, slicing a piece of cheddar cheese – I hear crunching of a cracker in your mouth – now, your fingers toy with a deck of cards, shuffling, splitting them, shuffling a second time, and you begin playing solitaire.

It’s obvious, you want to talk, because you are here, I feel you. I felt you last week, during class as I crossed wooden floors glaring over shoulders of my students – as you placed words in front of my eyes.

It’s obvious you came to talk, or perhaps scream – you were, always rights.  Today I think about those days and wonder what it might have been if I listened – Mother knows what God gave me – she wants to yell, “Create.”

She’s ignoring this idle talk – to me. She folded her deck.

I felt a brush of air against my neck, heard cards slapping on our Formica table; someone closed the crank out window – I knew you were here.

(Excerpt from Yesterday’s Child)

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