He slices oranges, crushes them with
a violence reserved for horror films,
the counter clotted with pulp and gore.
We do not speak. The toast rains crumbs,
raisins. His chair scrapes the floor with
a banshee wail. The kitchen intervenes,
refrigerator humming in disapproving
tones. Soon the garage door yawns and
he starts an engine. He will come home
late, and neither one of us will sleep.
My mother predicted divorce when I was ten,
when a boy stole my blue pail to build a sand
castle. He refused to give it back, so I walked
away, amused myself with shells and jumping
over waves. Go get the goddamned bucket back,
she ordered, or mark my words, boys will take
what they want and leave for the rest of your life.
I draped a towel over my head, invisible,
as the sun flipped its switch to set, sucked
the warmth from every inch of me. Later
I rediscovered heat in the pockets of boys,
their hands branding my skin. I let them take
what they wanted, imagined my mother weep.
Salt erodes the paint on houses and shops
near the beach. A humid smell. Damp, like
sweat or wet towels left in the shade, never
quite able to dry. A rustling all night inside
the walls. Old potato chips crunch invisible
underfoot, blend into industrial whorls of
carpet. Cups of tea from a microwave peeling
around its dials. Sea birds calling from frigid
shores. Ice at the base of breakwater stones.
The sun cannot penetrate, can only paint
the sky with promises it cannot keep.
Blank page swirling into hollow of bone.
Galaxies in cloudless, starless skies.
Say cavity. Say vacuum.
Abandoned building, crumbled walls,
closets filled with bare hangers.
Voice trailing in a canyon.
Flower in a tornado.
Say chasm. Say nothing.
Donna Vorreyer is a Chicago-area writer who spends her days teaching middle school, trying to convince teenagers that words matter. She serves as a poetry editor for Mixed Fruit magazine, and her first full-length poetry collection, A House of Many Windows, is also forthcoming in 2013 from Sundress Publications. You can visit her online at http://www.donnavorreyer.com