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sometimes guests overstay their welcome

You slammed the door shut so many years
ago when your Mama died, yet pain walks
back in, slips through the gashes in your heart,
the family you were born to, splintered,
never grew old, offers no solace.


Don’t ask pain to leave.  It won’t.
Make friends with it, invite it in.
Serve wine.


Maybe then stories will sit down with you,
the one about Mama on Sunday mornings,
late for church again—you were only five,
Daddy waits in the car, lights another cigarette,
your shoes untied, her young hands smooth
down the wrinkles in your dress.


And summer at the beach when you were four,
fried chicken piled into a Pyrex dish,
flies buzzing, waves wrapping your ankles,
sparkling jewels you could wear forever.


Years rolled one on top the other, stacked
like quilts in the cedar chest.  Her tiny porcelain
teacups refused to share their memories.

I can talk normal about her sometimes now,
the snake uncoiled from my throat.


You smile for a moment. You sense it may be time
for pain to leave. The visit hangs heavy.
Instead, you stand and pour more wine.

Marsha is a retired educator who survived teaching English to middle schoolers. Now happily retired, she attends writing classes, teaches workshops, and writes for he own learning pleasure. Her poems and essays have appeared at NewVerseNews, Feminine Collective, Rat’s Ass Review, and Life in 10. She lives in Richmond, VA, not far from the peaceful Chesapeake Bay.