On My First Imprint of Womanhood

by Yvonne Higgins Leach

Because my mind is a bank
of images sparked by emotion

I see you come through the door, Auntie,
in your wrinkled receptionist uniform

the last half mile of dirt road you took
spit up dust in makeshift shapes that

touch down as altars of anxiety
when the sun gushes into the empty

space where his truck should be.
Your heart abandoned as he fists

a cold beer at the bar.
The repeat cycle of

Will he come home tonight, or not
engraved like map lines on your pale face.

Only fifteen, I kill a perfectly good
summer day, watch daytime soaps

and read Seventeen magazine
from the indent in the couch.

I half-watch my rugrat cousins pounce
from rock to rock in the river all morning

then barrel in for a bowl of cereal
and run back out again, barefoot with the sun.

You pull a pan from the cupboard
and complain of a headache.

I set the table and when you hand me his favorite mug
a lightning storm of not-me-ever courses in my heart.

When night fell it was always the same:
you dream of the wonderful man you never met.

The next morning you made enough
coffee to fill his thermos.


Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of a collection of poems called Another Autumn. A full-time poet, she splits her time between Vashon Island and Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com

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