and it’s safe to venture out, we walk
to the end of the drive, out to the road,
through the mire & torn branches.
The smell of our wood fire mingles
with eucalyptus. We have only the moon
and our plastic flashlights. I can’t remember
the last time it was this dark; how slowly
the eyes adjust. A crisp silence creaks
and then echoes. I reach for your arm,
step over what trees have shaken
loose. The makeshift brace we rigged
held the fence again. The dogs chase
& bark and bite at their frozen breath
on the air. I draw my scarf up higher, tighten
my hood. The first really cold day is the hardest
to take; a chill blows through the body.
Sometimes it feels like the passing of minutes
is the only measure of movement
on a long road. Monotony of the white line,
how you know what’s coming
around any bend. But, the comfort of that—
the slump of their shoulder, the tap
of their toothbrush on the side of the sink,
the leaning in & holding on—
The rumbling would surge up from underneath
the white shag carpet, crystal trembling
in the cupboard, threatening to break.
His first insult hurled at her head
with that infuriating smirk, ice clinking
in highball glasses, drowning the falling sky.
The jaw behind her lipsticked mouth set.
What else could we do
but escape to the pool,
pool; dive in
to that muting, time-stopping water, our deafening
water. We’d give each other a side glance
and we were off— sprinting barefoot
across the prickly lawn, just ahead of the inferno
burning up behind us. We’d start the deep inhale
two strides before leaping, arms and legs punching
air, crashing into the deep end.
You could almost hear the
as we broke water.
We’d stay under, eyes closed, arms outstretched,
seeking and being sought. Eventually, we’d find
each other; it’s hard to swim away quickly
when you’re giggling. When it was time,
we would emerge as robotic
as synchronized swimmers. We could only be kids
when our parents weren’t around.
Barb Reynolds spent twenty-two years as an emergency response child abuse investigator. Her chapbook Boxing Without Gloves was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Barb’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently POEM, West Trade Review, Stonewall’s Legacy Anthology, Poet Lore, Calyx, and Roanoke Review. Barb founded and curates a monthly poetry series in Berkeley, and divides her time between Oakland CA and Provincetown, MA.
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