Writing when I don’t know what to write
by Andrea L. Alterman

My refrigerator hums. My ceiling fan spins
down ribbons of air to cool my sweaty shoulders,
caress my hair like my mother did when she had
to wipe my chocolate stained mouth with a tissue.
I loved her then. A voice above my braids laughing,
telling me I resembled a happy dirty clown who had
just spilled mud on his white shoes.

I swim in the smell of clover and honeysuckle. Happiness
is a shirt with blue spots and yellow spirals down
its front. Butterflies unfold in humid sunlit afternoons,
their antennae aquiver as we splash and scream Marco,
Polo, Marco, go low, Marco, no go.

Then at barbecues, fireflies take their turn to flit in and
around twisted ropes suspending a wooden love seat. We
sit on smooth tree roots balancing a checkerboard, crowing
and crowning while grass grows damp. Soon we sleep to
wake with shooting stars.

We were small enough to carry. I loved my father’s shoulders.
His hair was my pillow as he held me up to put me down
in my bed on summer nights. He hummed to me like my
refrigerator does now on warm evenings when I sip lemonade.

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