Tallahassee by Ann E. Michael


You lived in a cinderblock duplex
like everyone else that part of town
flat roof beneath mossy oak
sidewalks yellow at pollen blow
loose trash along the curbs.
Your brother drove a new model
pickup everyone envied,
kept it real clean, never parked
on your street. He’d say forget
college, get a job, he’d buy you beer
and drop you at your door
the neighbor kids eyeing him like
some kind of celebrity. One time
he backed his truck over a kitten
didn’t hear you yelling stop
till it was too late and the poor thing
lay yowling, paralyzed, those kids
looking on with you still can’t say
what, maybe awe, on their faces.
Their dad jerked his thumb at Rick,
said, Finish it. Rick revved into
reverse, then roared off. You told
them you were sorry. Ain’t nothing
but a cat, said your neighbor,
they’s dozens nobody wants, we
can get another. You stood
on the scabby grass, once again
feeling you could do nothing right.

Ann E. Michael lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, slightly west of where the Lehigh River meets the Delaware. Her most recent collection of poems is Barefoot Girls. Her next book, The Red Queen Hypothesis, will be published sometime in 2021. More info at http://www.annemichael.wordpress.com

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