Even though I was too old to need a nap
Grandma made me lie down in the afternoons.

I lay down on the nubbly bedspread for one
full minute. The numbers on the alarm clock

shone greenly, barely aglow, the same pale shade
as dried toothpaste. I tiptoed to the bathroom mirror

and examined my haircut, which looked
like it had been executed with a serrated knife.

Inside Grandma’s medicine cabinet was Calamine,
cold cream, Aqua Net, a single lipstick. I stuck

the thermometer under my tongue just to make
the silvery line rise, careful not to fumble it

or I’d have to chase the beads of mercury
along the floor, then I unscrewed the cap

of the Mercurochrome and daubed the wand
across my hand, staining my skin orange-red.

Across the country students marched against the war.
We walked to save on gas. I wasn’t suffering

from anything more than boredom.
There was nothing wrong with me.





Photo used under CC