by Mae Williams

I pedaled blocks on my bike
past faint outlines of danger to Sara’s
house where her mom answered
the door every time and she hug-rocked me
before I sat down next to Sara on a blanket
spread with Shastas and Little Debbies and we played
my Nintendo games while behind us on the sofa was Sara’s
beautiful mom with her belted arm and syringe of heroin
It seemed so harmless it could have been
a pair of knitting needles and
what she did looked like a sort of
mending: a stitching back together some
delicate corner in the distressed fabric of her
And she was glorious to me as she stretched
She did yoga in a patch of sunlight on the carpet
then drove us to the public pool
where she slept on a lounge chair
while the clouded sun bloomed sprays
of freckles across her nose
And at this aquatic sanctuary for the endangered
offspring of the working class
Sara and I sat on the edge before jumping in
where the water held us tight while we
held our breath and kicked and screamed for
hours until in the locker room
we rinsed off our tired little bodies and
the echoes of family noises grew and faded
while I waited patiently for my turn
Later she would pawn my video games but here was Sara’s
mom with a bristle brush and a hairdryer
Her high and gentle face smiled down at me
and the drone and heat of the hairdryer
pinkened my ears and neck and
she hummed with rhythmic movement
as she lifted and brushed my hair and the marks
on her arm appeared and disappeared
as she hummed beautiful girl
and hummed you could be Sara’s sister
and hummed you could be my daughter

Mae Williams lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her family. “Glorious” is her first published poem.

About Glorious—The natural response to the issue of addiction is some combination of bewilderment, anger, and grief, for obvious reasons, and I was hoping that a child's perspective might be a more accessible way to show not just what addiction takes away, but also what remains in spite of it.