He would come home from work with Shel Silverstein poems and candy cigarettes.
My brother always took the fake cancer sticks and left Shel for me.
I would make origami swans out of MASKS,
and paper hats out of The Giving Tree.
All the windows were always open in the house,
and the breeze would stir up the wind chimes hung both indoors and out.
Mom was always painting in the dining room or on the porch,
and dad would bring a new canvas home for her every week.
At night we would all eat dinner in the living room and watch Jeopardy,
and mom and dad would sit really close to each other and try to answer the questions on the TV.
Sometimes he came home from work with roses for mom because she was pregnant,
and we got our first family photo taken,
and we hung it above our fireplace like rich people did.
One day dad didn’t bring a new canvas for mom so, she painted the couch,
and they argued,
and my brother and I began to build blanket forts in our bedroom,
and we drew signs that said no moms or dads allowed,
Mom started getting too tired to cook dinner, so
dad would make everyone quick meals,
and he would sit on the lazy-boy instead of on the sofa next to mom.
Sometimes he would come home from work with bags.
Not shopping bags, but bags under his eyes from working two shifts.
At home he would fall onto the painted couch and sleep most of the day.
Mom began visiting my grandma by herself,
and while dad was asleep my brother and I would chase geese in the yard,
And sometimes we would catch one and we put it in dads room.
It started getting colder outside so we closed all the windows in the house,
but the outdoor wind chimes kept dancing in their music through the fall.
Mom and dad started yelling at each other more and more,
and mom was getting really big.
Sometimes dad would never leave for work.
He stayed inside all day and played video games on the TV,
and mom was still sour about dad not buying her new canvas boards,
and she painted the TV screen when dad was in the shower.
They yelled for a long time,
and my brother and I stayed a few nights at my grandmas with mom.
Mom went into early labor,
and my brother and I sat in a hospital waiting room for eight hours.
Dad showed up to see my new sister be born,
and things were okay again for a little bit.
Sometimes he would come home with big hugs and a last minute fishing trip,
and mom asked him to stay, but he wouldn’t.
Grandma came over to babysit my brother and I so mom could go to a party,
and we built another blanket fort, only this time it was in the livingroom,
and we rented The Passion of The Christ,
and I dreamt that dad was going to sell me for thirty silver pieces.
Mom came home really late and wobbled in a pair of black stilettos towards her bedroom,
and dad came home two weeks later,
and mom and dad screamed at each other,
and mom flushed her wedding ring down the toilet.
Sometimes he hated coming home,
and the neighbor with eight fingers started flirting with mom,
and he would pretend that he was gonna cut my fingers like his,
and for some reason mom laughed at that violent gag.
My brother and I sat by the door at night in case dad came home,
and the new baby liked to cry a lot.
And one day I snuck up on mom to scare her, and
she was holding broken glass from the family photo to her face.
I told my brother and he thought that maybe she was just trying to shave,
like dad use to.
Sometimes he stopped coming home,
and mom lost the house and moved us into the car.
The eight fingered man got into a fight with mom,
and he syphoned our gas twice.
One day I saw dad in the Meijer parking lot,
and he was with a blonde woman,
whose **** were literally bigger than her head.
I woke mom up and told her,
and she drove to a different lot.
Sometimes he never called me or my brother,
and mom met someone new,
and the new guy had baggy pants and an obsession with football.
And mom got pregnant again,
and the new blonde hair blue eyed baby looked nothing like his dark skinned father,
and we moved into a house again.
My brother and I stopped mentioning our dad to each other,
and the windows in the new house were nailed shut.
Mom was always tired, falling asleep on the toilet or while cooking dinner.
I noticed that gradually we began living with more and more painted furniture.
Sometimes he would write a letter to us,
and mom said if it were a letter then it’s probably from the jail,
and no one ever told me why he went to jail.
My brother and I never wrote back to him,
and I caught my new step-dad burning the old family photo.
One day dad called the house,
and he said he wanted to see us,
and talking to him felt like talking to a stranger.
Mom and the step-dad began collecting small orange bottles,
and at night they locked themselves in their room.
My brother and I would make beds in the livingroom,
and all my siblings would sleep on the floor together.
Sometimes I think about my childhood,
and I’m okay with how things turned out.
I know to fully appreciate the calm of an open window,
and I often write people letters now.
I don’t have the time to see mom and dad much anymore,
but I often feel sorry for them and their aimlessness.
I visit my siblings on weeks when I can,
and I try hard to love them the best that I can.
I’ve forgiven the things that might seem unfair,
I’ve moved on to a new life,
It’s better, I swear
My brother and I found a box of candy cigarettes at the supermarket last week,
and before bed last night I read aloud Shel Silverstein's, A Boy Named Sue,
and everything was good again.