Poetry by Elena Ahrens

 

Differing Views of Childhood

 

You cling to images of Hot Wheels and G.I. Joes

I only remember

losing it all, seeing her

fade to nothing

Tiny skeletal woman

in a black designer dress

that only enhances her pain.

Those images of her

after he left –

she had to contend with

finding work for the first time,

deflecting creditors and

raising 3 children alone

– come back to life in home movies.

I do remember

Beautiful Crissy

Barbie’s camper

and how you took Thumbelina

pulled her string and let her hang

over the railing until she stopped squirming

You keep fresh visions of happiness

wrapped up in the cellophane of

Mattel and Schwinn

You recently found a

vintage G.I. Joe

and only speak of afternoons

when he would pick up Barbie

in his helicopter

I remember being eight

having to take care of you

making sure dinner

was on the table by five

wishing I could be brushing

the long red hair

of Beautiful Crissy

 

Out Past The Hamptons

 

Because it was a family vacation

we drove off during the early morning fog

like lemmings to the Long Island Railroad

rushing ahead to beat the traffic.

Not really employees but not on our own. My brother and I

sat behind my mother and stepfather heading east

where the sand is white and the seagulls

devour leftover bread crusts from half eaten lunches

and pelicans dive into aquamarine seas.

We watched our mother hiding

under the striped umbrella never near the water

never exposed and she watched us

build precise sandcastles with

Joey Heatherton down by the edge

of the shore hoping the tide wouldn’t rise

and evenings were spent eating lobsters

fresh off the boat at Gosman’s dock while the adults

got drunk and Uncle Willie talked to seagulls.

 

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