It was the way Survey of English Lit
lay on the t.v. tray in the two-door closet
I’d turned into an office.
You see, the apartment was small
and your infant lungs large,
forcing out cries like I did words,
typing on my Mac Classic,
trying to get my Master’s thesis done.
There were no walls to separate
mother and daughter, no boundaries
or untruths or air spray to cover
the smell of sour milk. There
was no crib or changing table
from Pottery Barn or even Ikea.
There was the donated cradle
from Peter down the street who
had three kids and knew what it was like
to have only a nook to call his own.
Peter’s youngest was three at the time,
climbing into the red 1979 pickup
we’d eventually buy for one-thousand U.S. dollars,
Bondo falling off the fender,
like a woman’s mud mask left on too long.
That’s how we began, by begging.
That’s the way we started a life,
our life together, our life of moving
from state to state until we settled here
where I type now in a family room
on an expansive, cluttered desk
that takes up half a wall.
Next to me, craft supplies pig-pile
on a battered rolling cart,
drawers falling off the tracks,
each bottom hindering a top,
keeping them from opening
while every afternoon
you come home from high school,
and I ask you how your day was.
Copyright September 15, 2014