My panty-clad mother stands before the ironing board crying,
wiping her eyes with one hand, sawing
the iron over shirts with the other.
She’s drawn the drapes against the intense
summer heat. An odd shaped light surrounds her desire.
My father’s missed another promotion from the bank.
She waves the iron near her ear as she shakes
out another shirt.
Why can’t he push himself, speak up?
Now what will we do? Now what will we do?
In the dining room I open my Bible coloring book,
select a black crayon and draw a handlebar
mustache on the face of Jesus.
Mother sets down her iron, advances on me
and snatches up my efforts.
Never deface the face of Jesus, never—
even atheists don’t do such things!
She shakes me back and forth
as if to iron the devil out of me. I thought,
Jesus wouldn’t mind, he’s as gentle
as my father.
Published Whistling Girls and Cackling Hens, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook Series, 2003