Excerpt #13, Rocking-Chair Moon

Weight On Her Shoulders
—Ben

Carly’s in her room, writing in her journal
as usual, Dad’s in the kitchen on the phone
talking in a hush-hush voice
to Uncle Mike, I think, about all the weight
Mom’s carrying on her shoulders,

and Mom’s missing,
although I heard the front door
snap shut a while ago,
so maybe she went to the store
or on a visit to Grandma’s house
with some zucchini bread
or something else
to put a little flesh back
on Grandma’s bones,

so I settle on the couch with my own journal
and my watch on stopwatch mode
and stare out the front window
at the neighbors’ houses dripping rain,
hoping to catch Mr. Felder steaming past,
going for a personal record,

but instead up the block I spot a woman
in a baseball cap and sweats,
following Mr. Felder’s route,
pounding down the sidewalk
toward our house,
and as she gets closer,
rainwater flying from her shoes,

vapor trailing from her mouth and nose,
eyes squinted against the weather,
I recognize her face and shape
and the way she carries herself
and realize Mom’s car
is still in the driveway,
and in a blink she’s passed us by,

head down, fading away
into the gloomy afternoon light,
sweating and thinking and listening
to the thump of her heart, I imagine.
For someone carrying a lot of weight,
she’s moving fast.

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