was the summer we shoplifted
too many candy bars from Pathmark
& you were still in the habit of talking back
when mom lectured us, which would make her
voice boom through the house.
this was also the summer she pulled me from a lake
made of light. the three of us were walking home
one night, grocery bags rustling
in her tiny black cart. we were still close
enough to Coney Island for you & i to dream
of detouring to the boardwalk & bathing
in the glow of its slow spinning ferris wheel.
we wanted food & when you are young
you make a game of everything, even hunger.
we decided to sprint ahead:
the first person to reach the house first
would get the other’s dessert.
i’ve yet to run that fast again; my hurtle
shaking every muscle & bone in my body
until i believed i was so fast i didn’t need to stop
or worry about oncoming traffic
when a Ford Taurus’ high beams poured
shine all over my face. the driver slamming his brakes,
his screeching tires, a tiny herd of swine squealing
in the night as mom’s voice cracked & we heard
fear, like a moth rustling out of its chrysalis.
that night she watched me break
into a fever & we all wondered if something
other than her put me in this world
& could it take me back out, if it wanted.
Photo by Dean Pasch