The first time I invited him in
I was fourteen. I waited all afternoon
but nothing happened.
Four years later
in a lonely car on a dark, dirt
backroad, I opened the door
and let him ride along.
Only a pair of intervening headlights
coming at us changed the course of events.
After that I kept him hidden,
behind alcoholic wildness and stern,
absolute uprightness and brilliance
and genius and I don’t know what else.
Now, he shares every sidewalk with me.
We trade off using my cane.
I’ll glance at him
and the corners of his mouth will turn up,
his hair, as white as mine,
tumbles into his eyes,
and with that soft, enticing voice
he’s always had, he asks: was it worth it?
Turning me down, sending me away,
Was it worth it?
Yeah, I say back to him  
then pause to consider all the things
we’ve done together, and I say,
Yeah, it was.

Christmas Has Rules, You Know

brief salvage

She lay there listening to her teen-aged sister’s slow breathing from the twin bed across the room and could tell her sister was asleep. No lights came from the hall. No voices from the television in the living room

She thought, I could sneak to the Christmas tree, look around quickly, and be back in bed before anyone notices.  She propped Teddy, her stuffed bear, up in the corner of her own bed by the wall.  Folded back the blankets, and slipped her feet onto the floor. She paused. She listened.  Her sister’s little snore hadn’t changed, so she knew she was still asleep.

She rose to her feet and tip toed across the linoleum floor, pushed aside the tattered curtain that served as a door to the bedroom, and peered into the hall.  No one was there.  She stretched her neck, ear to the right, toward the other bedrooms…

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