by April Salzano
The neighborhood playground has been eaten,
oxidized and abandoned. What was
never a good neighborhood is now worse.
One swing and a crooked slide sit at the bottom
of a hill that used to seem steep. We made a game
of shoving our bicycles down riderless,
watching their front wheels turn, head southwest,
wobble, then crash, spokes spinning slower
as they lay on their sides, dead horses, defeated.
I was trying to kill mine so I could have a ten-speed.
That was the year my mom gave me her purple
sunglasses as a birthday present
because she couldn’t afford anything else. The glasses
folded up and fit into a small, circular zipper case.
My shock outweighed my gratitude and I am sorry
to say I did not hide it from her. I had already
been stealing her cigarettes, the long, brown
ones or the ultra thin white variety with flowers
on the filter. My sisters and I smoked, the youngest
only pretending to inhale. That year our mother
was a single parent. She knew poverty
was better than being beaten. There was nothing
she wanted then that she did not already have.
Recent two-time Puschart nominee, April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons. She recently finished her first collection of poetry and is working on a memoir on raising a child with autism. Her work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg, The Camel Saloon, Blue Stem, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle.