WHERE THE TELEPHONE LIVED

February 27, 2018

We lived in a child’s painting, in a red house

perched on a hill, blue lake, yellow sun,

and every morning my cousin and I ran

into our grandmother’s bedroom,

kissed her chalky cheeks, then crouching,

stirred up little suns inside the dark cave

of her fireplace, while next to her bed,

the great sun burned rituals into the seams

of the house, into the cracks of carrying beams.

Light bounced off the watery parking lot

for human toys, while underneath smooth hulls,

sunfish swam. Secrets shared during underwater

tea-parties bubbled to the top. Ageless, we played,

not suspecting we were aging. One night after

skinny-dipping, dark lake meeting unwary skin, 

we slipped into the house wrapped only in towels

when our grandmother’s New York

friend happened to run into us in the back room

where the telephone lived—that tall man who brought gifts,

told corny jokes, who everyone said was good

with children, and as we stood there,

my cousin’s brown pudgy toes sweetly met

the pine boards, and his burning glance, pine knots

as witness, blistered into us.

 

 

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