Off coast, gray and purple clouds are clumped and motionless.
Will the day be clear or cloudy, gusty or still?
I sit in a patch of sunlight on the top step to write—
just as years ago I sat on our upstairs step to listen:
the creaking house, my family’s nighttime breathing,
chiming of the mantel clock.
Outside, a random car hums down Main Street,
brief clucks and flutters from the chicken coop,
the startled bark of a neighbor’s dog.
I like to be the only one awake, free, invisible,
nobody calling, fussing, telling me what to do.
My small room was off the stairway landing.
Five steps up was Mother; ten steps down was love.
One I tried to sidestep;
the other, just a quick slide down the bannister, drew me in.
Mamu rocked and rocked me on the porch, sang her old-time songs.
Mother thought to teach and to improve.
All my life she’s looked over my shoulder;
frowns and questions, then shakes her head.
Something in me wants to please her;
something wants to spite.
And something yearns to merge these two staunch women
whose strong pull keeps me stranded on the landing.