by Loretta Diane Walker

Each room yawns with emptiness
and ghosts of past desires creek
across stained gray linoleum floors.
Walls look as though locusts swarmed,
ate away grandchildren’s faces,
poems and crosses. Nail holes, old paint
and silhouettes of picture frames are the remains
of my family’s lineage.
Boxed, labeled, shipped, stored and rationed
for someone else’s garage sale, pieces of us
scatter from Odessa’s flat dusty stomach
to Austin’s hilly head.

The refrigerator hums a melancholy melody
as I blink back tears searching for memories.
A veil of mystery sits on the top shelf
of a bedroom closet— Jewelry. Send to Austin.
The words on the box are penned with my hand.
I don’t remember putting it there, but do remember
the September afternoon she left
with a necklace of fear sagging around her frail neck.
The air was in rehab from a bulimic summer of drought.
Thin grass blemished with heat stalks us to Brady, Texas.
There, in a McDonald’s parking lot, we meet
the topaz and amethyst stones in her mother’s ring.
We greet, chat, and race the sun to evening
before the three of them drive away with Mama’s
new life blowing from the exhaust pipes.

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