Flowered unzipped skirt unbuttoned blouse taupe stockings over the doorknob brown slippers against the tub’s clawed feet soft terry towel on the hook plastic five & dime soapdish the windowsill the window curtain in the breeze a clothes-line stitches the alley a mother whistles her children home. Big Bird hands over the hour to Mr. Rogers. A squeaky rubber duck on the tub rim a tired rubber duck in the sink a pink washcloth twisted dry a rusting hairclip the Jersey Journal folded neatly in half the year is the year she doesn't notice like we do the bruise on her right big toe blue on gray linoleum her left leg lifting into the tub but first let's fill it with water let’s quick push the cracked plug into the hole for the tightest fit.

Tip of the bruised big toe first, toe toes legs waist breasts until all but above her neck submerged her hair pinned up and clipped so why why not we urge but can’t intercede divert her thoughts from A&P’s creamed corn on sale or Filene’s paisley shortsleeve dress soon on clearance and perfect T-strap sandals that actually fit. Why not retreat from the supervisor’s loud reprimand and Bobby’s report card and the dentist bill please we plead submerge into your one-hour cradle close your eyes rock in bubble bath scent your bath gels spilled under the tub like agates on a Florida beach the alligator sunning and asleep.

Published in Paterson Literary Review

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