"South Mason Street, 1976" - Robert Lee Kendrick
My mother’s first name was dammittohell.
Her middle was Pearl.
She filled afternoons with Winston 100s,
South Pacific,& Carousel,
singing the female leads to her vacuum.
My father came home from General Electric
& closed the garage door behind him
spending his evenings with chisel & saw,
cutting joints to lock wood at right angles,
setting them with the force of a vise.
I’d pedal from Bloomington Jr. High
to the pond at the end of the street,
traded cigarettes stolen from mom
for Hustler pages from Doug next door.
Dinners were quiet & short.
I cleaned the table & rinsed the plates
while he went back to his shop or Miller’s Tap,
& she sat by herself on the porch.
He kept his bench swept of sawdust,
polished his plate with a fistful of bread,
wiped his ’66 Coronet’s blue vinyl seats
clear of late night semen & sweat.
She folded my clothes in squares
& stacked them in boxes from Kroger,
filling the back of her Pinto.
One weekend a month I joined him
in his shop, building tables
to bring other families together,
beds for sleep & for love.