After the Bankruptcy
by Sara Hughes

In the frozen food aisle, my father winked,
put a chocolate pie in the cart.
At the checkout he whistled, stacking
plastic-wrapped meat and towers
of canned beans beside the register.
Caught up in his cheer, I reached
for the new issue of Seventeen.
It cost three bucks. I wouldn’t have asked,
but the pie in the cart confused me.
My father shook his head. I put it back,
embarrassed I’d embarrassed him.

Two days later, the phone woke us,
and my mother wailed in their bedroom.
My friend, also named Sarah, had been flung
from her parents’ station wagon
as it flipped like a fish across the highway.

After our drive home from the funeral,
the only sound was my mother’s heels
clicking on the front walk. I slogged inside
to my room where my father had placed
that magazine on my pillow.
The pages were as sleek as gift wrap,
and on the cover, my favorite movie star
was smiling at something I couldn’t see.

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