by Laura Grace Weldon

Leftovers laced with mold.
Speeding tickets
and carpet stains.

Failure is a book on the porch
swollen by rainwater
into a rippled accordion.
Zipper teeth open in accusation
while the garden withers
just a few feet from a faucet.

It's mail unsent, bills unpaid,
fees slurping
what's left of a bank account.

Failure feels like entropy,
as if our outcomes
lean toward collapse.

It is the wriggling baby
and heavy grocery sacks she carried
up the apartment steps.

When the baby fell
it was cartoon-like,
so unreal a laugh bubbled
in her chest, his head
hitting the steps
one by one to the bottom.
As she ran to him she hated
her hands. When he finally cried
she told herself he was dazed,
just fine. But all these years later
his rages bring to mind
white baby shoes cartwheeling,
marvels in his skull intact
until broken from her grasp.

Copyright 2024 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.