by Amanda Skjeveland
For Mom, and her world
A half century ago, she sits book-ended
between an older and younger brother
on a carpet devoid of dirt or other byproducts of life.
Legs curled demurely to one side, she waits,
fingers toying with her skirt and white socks.
In the winged back chair sits her father,
the Air Force Colonel who told men
not to die and expected compliance;
on the only other chair, her mother,
who on hands and knees steel-wooled
the hardwood floors so well the Colonel
installed wall-to-wall to keep them pure.
And now they are on, these pretty boys
in their slim trim bodies of flawless black,
their locks dancing, faces bright with limelight,
melody tripping and bouncing on its joyful legs,
scurrying to something they call love,
which makes her want to dance and let
the tap of drums and eager shrieks
of pent up voices uncurl her fingers,
splay her palms, catch the breath
like a high note in her throat
amid the lilt and jaunt of the guitars
held by the pulsing figures on the tiny screen,
the charged harmonies of word and song
dissolving in each other.
Never any boy of mine, says the Colonel.
Embarrassing, says her mother,
jerking the girl back from the red thump
of the heart deep in the now that always passes and remains,
and thrusting her into the tight room and pulseless blood
that want to vacuum clean these clean-cut desperados.
She intertwines her fingers out of sight,
moist skin upon skin, clasp and release,
clasp and release, a warning signal
to those boys with their bangs too long,
who just keep shaking their heads
back and forth, back and forth.