The Boy From Down the Street
I met the boy from down the street
by accident. He answered questions
like any man: Nine. Devon. Fine.
Until my son, the one among
us brave enough to ask the most
important questions, innocently
asked Devon if he had a mommy
……………………..Devon’s back is turned,
his little legs and wheels can’t carry
him fast enough or far enough—
the question hits him from behind.
My neck grows hot. Apologize?
Explain? I wait and watch and wait.
The boy stops pedaling and walks
the bike back, closing the distance
between him and me. He passes
my three-year-old without a glance—
all forty-nine inches of skin and bones
have steeled his spine, his eyes meet mine.
My dad left home when I was two.
I haven’t seen him since. Silence.
He waits for me to fill the gap
with something new. What lie
will Neighbor Lady peddle the kid?
I surprise him with the truth:
My mommy left when I was three.
I haven’t seen her since. Silence.
Devon exhales. He looks away.
Studies each house, each tree. He speaks:
Yes, well, my mom would never leave.
He runs to pick up his small Schwinn,
blood-red and scratched. He pedals hard.
Better Than Sex
When my grandma tells me there is a cake better than sex,
I don’t believe her.
So she describes it—
I listen, still not believing,
watching her eyes water at her words,
her hands animate the actions as she lists ingredients.
Better than sex,
she says, licking her lips,
which have dried in the telling.
Looking to the kitchen clock,
she clears her throat with a cough,
and gives me final instructions in staccato
as if reading from the yellowed recipe card
kept in her mother’s tin on the stove:
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 minutes.
I ask, Who has that kind of time?
She sighs, Exactly.
L’Esprit de l’Escalier
I hate her name—
the way it drips from your lips
like you’ve gulped too much of her
like you don’t care
that half of it slides from your mouth
coating your chin—my ears,
Tell me the secret for moving on.
Is it part of your training?
Timed runs carrying your kit
pull-ups sit-ups push-ups planks
clean, load, sight your weapon—
Break my heart. Green Beret.
When you call me controlling—
just like your mother, you add,
knowing the punch it packs—
I want to tell you all the ways
you failed to satisfy.
My body, with your small hands and form
that always smelled of someplace else.
My mind, with the games you played:
“I didn’t say I would pick up milk on my way home;
I said I could. You will have to get it if you want it,
and learn to listen better next time.”
I pack in silence, as you warn me
I’ll be back for money—certain
I can’t make it without you.
I descend the stairs, walk out the door,
and think of all the things I should have said.
Marissa Glover teaches and writes in central Florida and shares her thoughts more than necessary, which she considers a form of charitable giving. If it counted as a tax deduction, she’d be rich. Her work has appeared in various places including Strange Poetry and Stanza’s Solstice Sounds and on her parents’ refrigerator.