At three fifteen my office phone will ring
as she drops books and shoes at the front door.
She’s breathless. “Can I open a can of soup? Can I
watch TV? Can Annie come over and do homework?”
She knows the rule about friends
when I’m not home. I hear the refrigerator slam
and the theme from Happy Days and she’s gone
before I can tell her what to take out for supper.
How did we end up like this I wonder, looking at her
in ankle length cotton skirt safety pinned at the waist
over long johns and a tie-dyed tee. Through deep teal
lined eyes she teases me that her whole “Rag Stock”
wardrobe cost less than one of my suits. And her stark
bi-level haircut was free. Somehow every other week
morphed into three out of four and then full time. I max out
my credit cards.
Come summer I take her on work trips with the promise
of a hotel pool and a Dairy Queen. Teach her to take the city bus
from our apartment to day camp and art class. We read
Maya Angelou and Rita Mae Brown. I drag her
to my soccer games and rallies for women’s rights invite her friends
to come along. We sing I Am Woman Hear Me Roar. In school she leads
a student protest. Am I making her grow up too soon?
Like marionettes we are dancing proud independent arms bobbing
on our little stage feet stepping lithely between what is
and what was supposed to be heads not asking for anything more
that soon it will be necessary
to sever our own strings.
Sherri Wright is a member of the Rehoboth Beach Writer’s Guild and the Key West Poetry Guild. She runs, practices yoga, and volunteers at a center for homeless all of which figure into her writing.