Jan/Feb 2012 Poetry

Better to be Safe

by J. Kelley Anderson

Better to be Safe

When he thinks of it,
my father tries to talk over the rain
like his voice is a place of its own
where we won't see my mother
closing her eyes each time we pass
the great grey smudge of a semi.

When we have a quiet moment
in the safe places, she says the trucks
make her think of tasting her own blood,
like a penny on her tongue with one
cheek on the wet pavement
that should be cold, but isn't.

She tells me how the sky looks green
just before the tornado comes
and plucks the roof out into nothing
like the way black ice makes the breaks
useless, makes the steering wheel useless
makes joints, tendons, muscles useless.

When they found her cancer,
she shaved her own head, standing
at the kitchen counter while my father
canceled their cruise ship reservations.
She waited for weeks to tell my brother
and me. She said I was too busy
for an extra worry.


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