Elizabeth Kerlikowske >


First House

Bungalow on Columbia gem of the ocean
          of Lake Michigan they said it was jade
                    or emerald but it was chalky mint 
that hid the taste of medicine they built
          themselves while she taught kindergarten
                    and he hauled semi-spoiled fruit from 
Chicago and used his smile to sell it
          next door to his parents’ Tudor and motel
                    eating breakfast at their round-tabled
booth in too small cowboy vest and boots
          but that was after cousins were extra 
                    before moccasins snuck up the stairs 
and jumped on Dad’s belly never been 
          up there before 1953 big wooden tv 
                    and the dog stood with our noses against 
its tiny window feet on striped carpet 
          kitchen where feathers were ironed
                    on a metal board and hang nails 
ground crayons on the turntable of a record 
          player downstairs my room across
                    from theirs but after Gran screamed 
and dropped the pan my doll moved upstairs 
          on the left, my dad on the right Gran and 
                    the new baby were downstairs outside
God left an old boat full of sand I rowed 
          to Heaven one night and my mother opened
                    her robe of stars I dove into the hard
wood floor stubbed my toes on all the lion’s
          paws bloody trail of band-aids thin as a healthy
                    appendix yanked from the home body 
just as the apple tree opened its flowers 
          into bees and transplanted to the Colonial 
                    so far from the fog horn’s hug I died.