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Learning to Smile, One Throne Magazine

"Mother and Child" by Nadia Huggins.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.

LEARNING TO SMILE
by Andrew Collard

 

Forgotten mail

piles on

 

the kitchen

table,

 

as I sit

blowdrying

 

a bassinet

at midnight.

 

Water rises from

my basement’s drain

 

and the TV says

another boy’s

 

been shot

somewhere:

 

one more

explanation

 

I’ll be missing

 

when my newborn

son is old enough

 

to ask.

 

His cries drift

downstairs

 

as new sensations

overwhelm

 

what stitches

his world together.

 

Like fragments

of broadcast:

 

light, exhaustion

hunger.

 

The last

is an absence

 

I recognize

 

as updates

reach my phone,

 

a man

with dark skin

 

raising hands

 

and shouting

while a red dot

 

hovers

on his chest.

 

I can’t

put the pieces

 

together,

 

lines of masked

men

 

pointing weapons,

 

ready to bring

the hammer

 

down on principle. 

 

My son’s 

learning how

 

to smile

 

as I scrub

my basement,

 

pulling up

carpet where

 

the flood

seeped,

 

and ignoring

 

the mouth

that’s grown

 

in the drywall

 

whispering

it’s time to move.

 

I take the garbage

to the curb

 

in plastic bags,

leaving them

 

beside my neighbor’s

couch

 

and a dozen

damp boxes

 

down the street.

 

Andrew Collard lives in Madison Heights, MI, and attends Oakland University. Recent poems are forthcoming from A Minor, Word Riot, and Posit.

 

 
 
 
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