She is smiling because her daddy won’t be home tonight.
Carla, she is sitting on
the neighbor’s fence, one leg
dangling over either side.
She is smiling because her daddy
won’t be home tonight, and she
don’t ask why or how come mama?
has all her clothes packed up
in paper bags they’ve collected
from the grocery store. (I know
I won’t see her no more, that
they are going far away and
one day, in fifteen years, I’ll
hear her voice again through a
phone line and she’ll be crying about
her mama, saying she’s gone and
do I remember when we were kids?
I’ll say yes I do, I’ll say I knew all
along about everything, that she
doesn’t need to explain why
when I came to her house the next
day she wasn’t there. I’ll say “Carla,
don’t be scared any more.”)
The screen door slams open
and Carla’s mama lays eyes on me,
says “Judy, I didn’t see you,
how you been?” and I say just fine ma’am,
but she knows better. And Carla,
she lets herself fall from the