My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse

88 Pages, FootHills Publishing
Illustration by Carol Zaloom
$16.00 [wp_cart:My-Late-Mother-as-a-Ruffed-Grouse:price:16.00:end]

When I Had It Made

I had loose teeth that became nickels
under my pillow, a wooden trunk filled
with plastic pirate gear, and a black eye patch
my mother wouldn’t let me wear
to second grade. I trapped crickets
in jelly jars and fed them grass blades,
until they died and joined
my collection of dried star fish, rocket stamps,
and Canadian pennies. I practiced lassoing
with the laundry line and almost caught
the squirrel my mother hated for running
in the roof gutters whenever
she tried to nap. One day I crawled
out from my window and climbed
the sandpapery roof shingles
to the crest of the house,
where I sat practicing for an unsaddled horse,
and saw things I’d never seen before:
the daisy window for the neighbor’s attic
filled with lamps; the green hills
hunched like ants along the horizon,
where I bet some Indians still lived.
When the paper boy came, he didn’t see me spying
and didn’t know a black lab was racing
around the corner after his pants.
When Dad walked home, whistling
and swinging his briefcase, he didn’t see me
almost as high as the crows.
He carried his gin-and-tonic onto the patio,
opened the newspaper to the little league scores,
and told my mother in the kitchen
the next library lecture was about robins.
When I grew up, I decided, I would be an angel
who watched people like this all day.
I saw the first star at the end of the blue sky
and didn’t come down,
until the sunset
put the smallest clouds to sleep.