By Sharon D. Kennedy-Nolle
At the Primrose Gardens’ group home,
the guys share smokes around the picnic table;
the house itself exhales a heavy Lysoled and linty air.
Confined to an asphalt patch,
under the 24/7 eye of Neighborhood Watch
they slouch under overrated stars.
They have time: no AA tonight.
Under the driveway spotlight,
they lean, listening for the fenced dog’s advice.
Brandon swears, “Horror movies put me here,
that and the drugs.”
Back empty-handed from a ShopRite run, Little James explains,
“The grapefruits were talking.”
Grocery voices again,
“They say, ‘Don’t buy me.’”
Never mind the ice pick in somebody’s eye
that sent him up.
Inside, the house hums clean
as the dryers tumble on cycle “fluff.”
They’re like seven Snow Whites,
worn out after another day
of scrubbing, mopping, vacuuming,
as if conscience could be cleared by a good once-over,
and a well-made bed.
Conned on all counts, I’m here to see my son,
—the witch’s apple of my eye—
but they all greet, “Hiya Mom.”
Big Eric wails, “When you gonna bake that lemon meringue?”
I lie easily,
promising, “Next time, next time.”
Sharon Kennedy-Nolle holds an MFA in poetry from the Writers’ Workshop and a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Iowa. Chosen as the 2020 Chapbook Editor’s Pick by Variant Literature Press, Black Wick: Selected Elegies was published in 2021. Her full-length manuscript, Ghost Forest was chosen as a 2021 finalist for the Black Lawrence Press’s St. Lawrence Book Award and as a 2021 semifinalist for the University of Wisconsin Poetry Series’ Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes.