When it was still safe to walk home alone—
scuffling in leaves, which people burned
at the curb—we skipped from the brick
schoolhouse to the brown-shingled
Village Hall where we did good deeds,
earned embroidered badges. Our mothers’ lives
were sewn up tight, constricted by lack of cars,
highlighted by the bing bong of the Avon lady,
her purse full of samples; the Fuller Brush man,
his valise that unfolded in triple layers;
or,down the street, the squeaky brakes
of the Peter Wheat Bread truck. Oh, the thick
icing on those cupcakes, the ligature
of the white squiggle, which my mother
rarely bought. How we long for
what we cannot have. How it all
goes up in smoke.
Barbara Crooker

poems online



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