When it was still safe to walk home alone scuffling in leaves,
which people burned at the curb. We skipped from the brick
schoolhouse to the brown-shingled Village Hall where we did
good deeds, earned embroidered badges. Our mothers’ lives
were sewn up tight, constricted by lack of cars, highlighted by the bing
bong of the Avon lady, her purse full of samples; the Fuller Brush man,
his valise that unfolded in triple layers; or, down the street, the squeaky
brakes of the Peter Wheat Bread truck. Oh, the thick icing on those cupcakes,
the ligature of the white squiggle. Which my mother rarely bought. How
we long for what we cannot have. How it all goes up in smoke.
Barbara Crooker’s books are Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and More (C&R Press, 2010). Her poems appear in a variety of literary journals and many anthologies, including Good Poems for Hard Times (ed. by Garrison Keillor, Viking Penguin) and the Bedford Introduction to Literature. Visit her website.