The Kitchen III – Poem

The Kitchen III

Then there were the times he laid himself out
like a wet sweater on the kitchen floor,
flatout as an ironing board, arms
corpse-crossed against his chest, not like
he’d fallen, just settled there like sediment
undisturbed in a dirty cup. There was Mother
above him, clapping her hands in attempt
to stir him from sleep, clapping as she did
during the cooking day to rid the excess flour
from her fingers. Clapping as if to applaud
the neatness – always her favorite thing –
with which he rolled his body out
atop linoleum in a slim, submissive strip,
prepped to ascend later, vampire-style,
before his children tripped over him
on their way to the refrigerator, or the rise
of day turned up the heat and burned his skin.

The Kitchen II – Poem

The Kitchen II

He’s had too much to drink again
my sister whispers, while he staggers
to the kitchen, staring
at the oven timer like an infant
discovering sight, steadying a hand
against its blinking light. My sister
is too young, she shouldn’t understand
such limits, shouldn’t speak of it
in a voice already losing
its silver, shouldn’t whisper
at me as if I’m a conspirator. Later
in the night the timer goes off
like a bad weather alert
or air raid siren detecting danger.
I get up to make it stop, expecting
to discover warmth, a towel on a burner,
forgotten chicken blackened in foil.
But there’s nothing. Just an angry rasp
in an airless kitchen with a dark
and empty heart.