by Claire Scott
Living in Later
you said this is for your own good
as you reached for the leather strap
hanging on the hook by our fridge
you said you will thank me later
the whistling sound of just before
casting out demons you said
the searing sting
a child of the devil
I tried not to scream
screams made you hit harder
but I was only seven
Mother it hurt so bad
I am living in later
a map of ropey scars
on the backs of my leg
I wear thick stockings, long skirts
the shame of sin
I see a child in a kitchen
her smocked dress
her gangly legs
the cricket of her heart
as the world turned red
you were wrong, Mother
I have no thanks for you
the past lies before us
neatly divided into days/months/years
sometimes journaled in worn notebooks
turned into a poem, a painting, a waltz
sometimes ashes in a silver urn
a casket buried in the earth
dates carved in granite
the future lies behind, sneaking up
snagging us on the shoulder, surprise!
a stolen car, a scathing remark
a call at two am, a lover with leukemia
do we turn around
or is the past enough
There’s Carol checking out the asparagus.
What fun to see her again, or is it actually Sara?
Isn’t Carol the one with the recent facelift?
This woman’s face is definitely falling,
jowls creased, crinkled eyes. Or maybe
the facelift was a failure, a lawsuit pending.
What is her name, who has moved on
to the tomatoes, squeezing each one
like a baby’s cheek. Could it be Sharon
from my old book group that never
worked out because Leslie or Linda
talked too much and Susan never
read the books and there were
too many characters to keep straight?
Now she is eying organic strawberries,
picking out the moldy ones, frowning
at the exorbitant price. Tasting to be sure.
Or maybe it is Brenda or Barbara from CVS
who helps me find Benadryl and MiraLax
along with Depends for those uncertain days
of which there are more and more.
I see Carol or Sara or Sharon waiting in line.
I swallow and touch her sleeve: Hello Carol.
Image by Virginia Magat via Pexels.