Imagine This – Jen Gaudette
Imagine this: it’s 1956 and a little girl sits at the edge
of her driveway, legs straddling
the crack of pavement that reminds her of a lightning bolt.
Her right eye is lazy, the grown-ups say,
but she knows it works overtime
to try to straighten itself. She wears a tan coat
and cat-eye glasses, and she is waiting for her mother
who, every once in a while, promises to come for her,
promises to take her for chocolate ice cream
and a ride on the tilt-a-whirl over at the beach.
She feels the salt-air rush, the giddy ebb and flow
of her stomach.
Her world becomes clear
with the still of waiting
She listens to the halyards clink
against their masts, the willow across the street break
into itself the way arms are continuously cutting
and resealing the sea. She hears a dozen dogs,
one at each square of yard, waiting for their owners,
tails pulsing across this 1956 neighborhood’s dusk,
the dull ache of light as it repeats into shadow.
She’ll wait until dark, watching the sun fizzle
into Salem Harbor, spread itself along the horizon, disappear.
Her grandmother will pull her inside, but it will be another hour
before the child lets the coat slide off her trembly body,
hours after that before she crawls into bed.
She might wet herself this time. She might not.
One day, she’ll stop wetting altogether.
She’ll stop waiting, too.
One day, she’ll love her children with the ferocity of a tiger,
mistaking them for herself.