Lead paint is sweet;
kids like the taste of it. My canines can
remember sinking into the soft wood
in my grandmother’s former bedroom full of
sun-brown dust, corroded covers of books,
drawers of handkerchiefs, her grandmother’s
ancient lace gloves. Out of one window you
can see a whole pasture, waving, the name
of which I’m not sure I ever knew.
She might have been napping here when
her ten-month-old died in the next room.
Is this what’s in my bloodstream? Heavy words,
thin fabric, peeling chips, filigreed
shadows and south-facing light, the weight
of a first tooth, a mother’s heart sinking to history.
I must have loved looking out, sitting
on the bright floor trying to leave marks
in the sill, at that box of bright green,
oaks swishing in a waft of cow manure and diesel,
burnt sausage and coffee. Like a Union soldier in
the Civil War, she made it with chicory, the most
bitter stuff anyone has ever tasted.
Carrie Jewell has taught English for eighteen years. Her poems have appeared in the youth edition of The Worcester Review and What Rough Beast, an online poetry journal.