My mother’s failed flower
bed, her dogs’ graves in the moss-
covered grove by the shed.
I can’t think of them
the dogs all died
in Biblical ways: horrific
& in passing.
Before we sold the house,
we gathered
on my mother’s bed.
She dug her thumbs
into either side
of my tender spine,
wanted to soothe an ache
I claimed,
she & my brother high.
The popsicle wrappers
he & I slipped behind
the bread box, strings of ants
in the summers;
old polaroids in cheap,
ripping albums,
tucked by clovers & petals
I took from the woods
not realizing they’d one day dry
out. Once, a yard fire
exploded, blew my mother forward
for putting too much gas
on its piled leaves
& made liquid
the skin of her shin.
When she washed the trailer
walls, smoke drizzled down them
like basted fat.
Wasps dying for their nest
in the gutter;
how, when a yellow jacket stung me
on the way home
from the bus stop,
my mother punched it dead
then looked for it
in the gravel.
Empties in the shower.
The roly-poly I loved so much
I made it a house
from a Crackerjack box
& flushed it
when it died; the turtle I found
& kept
beneath my bed
with a leaf to eat,
that my brother threw
from the bowed back
door before he said
I was cruel



Jami Padgett