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In a Shoe

by Christa Mastrangelo

for my grandmother

  • I wonder why the good lord never taught me
  • to say, “when,” gave me a shut off switch, before
  • I became the old woman in the shoe.
  • I’ve got less than an ounce of goodness
  • left in me for these children—they’ve stolen
  • every bit. I make it through the day
  • reminding myself there’s gin behind the icebox.
  • I nap—they scream that the dinner is burned again.
  • I tell them they can eat it or starve, makes no difference
  • to me. One goes, there’re still eight more to worry me
  • to death. What do I wish for? Not that anyone asks.
  • I’ve got a basement full of junk
  • and no time to clean it; my refrigerator smells
  • like old greasy ham, and I haven’t had a new
  • dress since my wedding day (even that one I
  • made). There’s sewing to be done or the girls
  • will go naked, 18 socks need mendin, the garden’s
  • gone to weeds. There’s never a moment when someone
  • isn’t screaming they need something. Silence.
  • I’d like silence, and just to crawl
  • back into bed, hide from it all. Without me watchin
  • maybe they’d go on and burn the house down.
  • I’d pray they’d get out,
  • of course,
  • before the house went up completely.

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