Volume 1 Number 3
Fall 2006

 

Ten Years

Sally Childs

              (at seven)

I am the child of my brother, beneath the
  eaves of Aunt Coe’s cottage, refusing to
  plunge my head in the rainbarrel.
I have seen too many leaves turn to mold
  beneath rainwet branches.
In the field across the railroad tracks, my hair
  bleaches in the solar heat, and I pick violets
  for my mother.

              (at twelve)

I am three times four, waltzing in charmed
  circles with Grandma Ida in the tiny space
  between her double bed and closet door.
Like the yellowed keys on the upright, I’ve
  been struck and placed on hold.
I have heard too much music to learn to love
  silence.

              (at seventeen)

I am the tortoise shell comb twisted into
  sable braids to tease a corporal’s heart.
I flow like sunning oil on darkened flesh,
  leaving my father’s table for a more
  promising feast.
I have followed too many routines to wrap
  myself in ancient quilts smelling of
  camphor.