Susan Bucci Mockler

Last summer, I watched you in the lake,
waist deep, tossing my children
into the green water. Like small birds
launched from your shoulders.
Geese feathers and droppings
covered the sand, as though
the whole flock of them
had just lain down and slept,
too tired to fly. Last night, we heard
the wind ripping through the trees outside my house,
blowing all of our desires into the branches--
temperatures dropping by the hour.
Inside, the fire jumped and hissed
and your calm voice lulled me,
like a child's warm breath in my ear.
You told me how you used to throw
fine pieces of fruit into the night sky,
just to see how close the bats
would dive to the ground
before swooping up again.
It is cold and cloudy,
disorder fills my house--
smashed broccoli under the table,
the noise, the crying, the fighting:
who gets the bigger piece of cake,
who might have had two desserts?
People rarely do
what I think they should
and listen less to what I say.
A man with gorgeous blue eyes
seems to like me,
but he is not waiting for me
to leave my husband and ride off
with him on the back of his motorcycle.
Or, at least, so far, he hasn't asked.
I want to jump my horse over fences,
but, first, I probably should learn
how to get him to trot.
I get headaches.
Often, I lose time and lie still
in the dark, a cold cloth on my face.

They asked me to babysit you,
my 70-year-old aunt
with pink oozing sores
on your arms.
You smelled bad, too,
so I did not want to get too close,
and you liked to take out
your teeth
and chase us around the yard.
You could not be left alone
or you would hallucinate
the policeman, Junior Minelli,
making my sister put on her pants
in the street, as though
she would stand
in the middle of the street
with no pants on.
So I sat with you and listened
to you talk to your dead brother:
Remember, Nick? Remember when Pa
was alive and he'd let me ride his horse
down to the muck and you'd have to walk?
Then, one day you slipped
when you tried to get up from your chair
to go get a cup of tea.
I could not catch you
and didn't really want to touch you,
and you laughed that heavy
snorting you'd do,
asking me what would my father say
if he saw you slip like that from the chair
and knew I let you fall?

Susan Bucci Mockler
Susan Bucci Mockler teaches poetry workshops in the Arlington , Va. , school system.  Her work has been published or is forthcoming from the Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, The California Quarterly, and Voices in Italian Americana.  She is the recipient of two Washington Post Grants in the Arts and lives in Arlington with her husband and three children.



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