My First Rental

Posted on 13 February 2010

On the edge of Highway 41, scrub oaks
and long leaf pines spotted cars
coming and going. If I sat on the steps
just right, the cars might stop
and rescue me, or I might trade the jalousie
windows for a guitar, become a rock star
and tour the country, making millions.
Every day I waited for his body
to warn me of his arrival. Every day
I cooked ground beef. Every day I went
outside to look up into the trees. Often dared myself
to grab the cast iron pot and smack him
in the head. One day he shot the dog.
Made me bury it. If he didn’t come home,
he was either fishing or at Bob’s,
getting high. My boss’s blue car arrived
every morning to take me to work.
The sink was never clean. The shower
floor, like grease in a skillet.
It was never his body that announced his arrival–
it was his rifle. I don’t want to write this.
Don’t want to tell what happened next.
One day the house would no longer exist.
Just public storage units, and I would
not be able to find the exact spot
where I buried the dog. Instead I’ll drive
to his mother’s house and sit out front, daring
myself to knock on the door and tell her
what he did to me, but she’d already know.
Then I’d drive home, where no one would care
that I stayed in that place. It was a tiny, rotting house
where two almost-grown kids learned
how to hate. The house could have been
anywhere, but it was in Sarasota, Florida–as
likely a place as any. It was divided in two:
front and back. Sometimes I think I hear
the little house by the road, reminding me
that I should, like it has, accept what has happened
–first, the bulldozers, and now, in its place,
rental storage for unidentified possessions.


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