We thought this was the key, it looks like the key, but it’s not the key, it didn’t fit, we stammered, our eyes trapped in the piercing light of our grandfather’s gaze, his liquid blue eyes that swooned women of all shapes and ages into the bleached and pressed sheets of his extra king-sized bed. Our summer days, like the laziness of feral cats, were spent sleeping in familiar shadows until the popping of early evening bank robberies woke us from our sugary dreams, stretching our young backs and legs, arming ourselves with stolen goods and inside trades to win his fickle favor.
He selected the unabridged dictionary from between Innocents Abroad and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, discarded the crumbling pressed flowers from his third wife’s sudden funeral, and smiled at us with all the love a child could dream of, his teeth as white as a sailor, the smile he shared with bible study widows, this is a fiasco, and showed us the definition of our mistake. Our fathers, long forgotten victims of switchblades or tar, our mothers polishing hard wood floors, our daily wish for candy denied, we wondered which one the others would strangle after he left the room.
Beth Gordon is a poet who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for 16 years. Her work has recently appeared or will be appearing soon in Verity La, Calamus Journal, Five:2:One, Slink Chunk Press, Barzakh, Into the Void, Quail Bell, and others. She can be found on Twitter: @bethgordonpoet.