By: Jolie V. Gutierrez
She ran past me and straight into our mother’s arms.
Spoke between breaths and gulps of water.
Sugarcoated rust on wired fences,
fresh paint over the cellar door.
I took the car keys and left through the back door.
I left it open in case I needed to come back.
Dust covered ignition and bottles of beer in the back seat.
Just like the ones he drank before they took him.
Blue and red lights, black and blue skin.
There weren’t enough hours in the day,
or days in the week.
She had a good day at school, made a new friend we can’t see.
They speak every day and she calls him “pa.”
I clean up her puzzle pieces after playtime.
She gives up, but
I’m trying to make the pieces fit.
The next day I do the same. And the next, and the next, and the next.
They play hide and seek,
And I think I’m playing the game
because I still haven’t found him.
My mother stopped playing a long time ago.
She found the empty bottles of beer instead and
replaced them with new ones. And did it again, and again, and again.
I waited for him on the front porch, with a cigarette and his favorite lighter.
Maybe the flame or the smell of my burning
patience would bring him back.
He’s playing tag and we’re it.
Categories: Creative Writing