Tuesday, February 1, 2011


are important.
At least to me.
My mom says she hates'em, but she has her own-
she just don't know it.
She likes her beer cold with salt on the top
so much she's really not nice now she can't drink so much,
now that the baby in the belly is making it's way,
And how, she likes to sit by the heater and count how many cigarettes
she's allowed
to have for the next day
so she won't have to think she's a bad momma
Five, she counts, her brow creased,
holding them in her hand like
she's weighing them out.
They're light, I know.
I bring'em home from Bob's store
when she sends me for a burger and tots and a coke in a glass bottle.
We call it in and Bob, whose name isn't Bob at all, it's Barham.
I see it on the official papers he has to hang on the wall
when I go behind the counter and straighten up the display case.
"Azarafrous can't come as much and I am not good with order unless it's numbers," he says
and gives me a pink snowball or a lemon pie for the next day's breakfast
as payment for my neat-nic work.
Sometimes, he even throws in a Yoo-hoo.
"Azarafrous," he repeats her name with water in his eyes
and I think about the last time I saw her, how I recognized that look on her face
and how far away she was one second
and angry at me the next
for disrupting whatever daydream she was lost in--
Strange and familiar at the same time.
I make a ritual of arranging the display case-
the lighters, the wooden roses,
the loteria cards, the "gold" chains with marijuana leaves
I hide underneath the gold Jesus'.
Oh, I feel good when I stand back and survey my work,
even though I know it will be a wreck by Sunday, just like me.
Which leads me to the MOST ritual--
hopping on the Sweet Victory Bus, with my dollar tithe and my momma's Bible, singing VBS songs at the top of our lungs, reciting our memory verses and sitting real still in service by Mrs. Vernon who smells like talcum powder and butter.
It's the stillest I get all week unless Daddy's home and that's an eggshell kinda still where church
is a flowing water kinda still.
So when I go home, the mess is all around me, but not in me. At least for the afternoon.
Somehow by Sunday afternoon, I don't feel like such a mess.

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