One To Take the Time
She picks up the silver handle, remembering.
It is shining as if creamy moonlight has carved
wind’s smooth hips into its body,
and planted seeds of wheat to form stocky fields of bristles
that huddle together in a thick bushel as if trying to keep warm,
and to the touch, like dry skin on a prickly, cold morning.
Now straining her hair through it,
as if she was hoping for gold to appear in the muddy waters of a sieve,
a faded woman, from the light of time,
watches a gray picture of
a lady, a man,
her in satin, silk,
shining in her eyes the love of
a maiden, saved,
and him below,
in rough wool salty from sea winds
and quiet tears aching for home
he is offering his hand
No, that step has already been over come,
but it’s a withered hand of forever, searching for another
to find it, grasp it, hold it,
a calloused, leathery one
one to take her hair, like rabbit’s fur,
soft, white, and long,
and brush it until it becomes blankets of gray,
turning back the time that ages once
in body, twice in soul.
One to take the time
and brush it back so they are together,
two in body, one in soul.
The four play down the forlorn road,
chittering, then quiet. Silence is shatters,
deafening, like broken china.
Trees list toward them like towers of Pisa, broken fingers,
eager to hear the next quip of the life time.
Leaves fall like shed scales,
crackly and curled as if baked over a fire.
They walk in a marching band line, occasionally drifting off
like dead branches snagged on the banks of rivers,
or a whirl pool of rusty spades circling in the wind, tri-pointed stars,
the last leaf to settle after a sudden gust picks up
and dies down.
The four lined up like dolls in a playhouse,
father at the front, almost touching the trees,
brother pulling up the rear, with mom, stumbling
to catch up with them as he plows forward, pulling sister along, a waif––
each following another, ants scrambling to pick up a cookie-crumb trail.
She stares up at him and shakes,
all stiff veins and a thin stretch of skin,
like the barren trees around them, a reverberation of chill, but content
because the world is undemanding.
A sweater is given, clumpy but…
warm. A hug too,
always a hug.
Her hands clasp with mom’s
into a locket, small and unbreakable,
and dad’s, his stay by his side.
Brother in his lofty state of
dad’s shoulders, strong and broad, yawning
he looks like he’s trying to do the mamba,
while tilting out to catch, in his peewee hands,
an edge of a leaf, to feel the coarseness, the barbed tips, the spines branching,
to maybe feel the hope through
the air, its sigh in the wind, its covering blanket, warm,
sidled up to the trees and snug like a thick sweater,
it is captured in him, one who can find it.
There are four of them,
Momma mouse, Daddy mouse
sister mouse, brother mouse.
Or maybe I should say three and a half
because little brother mouse still has time enough to grow.
They have a reclusive life
in a backwoods home above the engine of a car that stopped turning
the last time the land started to freeze over again, which was, I don’t know,
years, centuries, eons ago.
And underneath the squeaky leather seats with the stuffing mushrooming out,
they make their home with shabby little bits of scraps,
of cotton, tin, and love
all barely holding on by threads,
as the frost wears on and on.
Underneath the seats is spacious, almost too
for a family of four.
Finely varnished with a creaky thin-rugged floor,
littered with forgotten goldfish snacks, crackers,
and broken plastic knobs that once had purpose.
Mama paces answering
why a decrepit car is their only home
and why yes, she is perfectly happy here
on the bottom. They have no where else to go,
so why not be happy?
Mother mouse’s anger gets prickly and sharp–
BE QUIET AND LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!
We aren’t leaving, ever. She says to herself
and her children. So you might as well give up now,
and who else would accept little mouse children like you?
We are the only family you have.
Look around the room, she says,
the air may be soupy, and the dark might be deep,
but look at all the space around you,
this was the place daddy and I saw fit.
Now all that sister and brother mouse think about is escape
from the cold and lonely that settles in
as if making its self at home
with what was left of one.
Age 13, Grade 8
Hunter College High School