7:30 A.M. by England Townsend
 


The creased polaroid photo my 

grandmother keeps in her wallet

by Kota Locklear


“Let me pay,” my Grandmother whispered,

flipping open her wallet

Inside the pocket was a weathered photo

of me and my sister sitting in

Her garden

Dripping with childhood 

and bitter with truth


My father’s home had always been

far from me, impossible

charred mistake of a building

The dwelling had consequences:

a school bag crawling with roaches,

a hungry stomach and an infested 

pantry. A broken promise.

Walls painted with black ash

and adorned with smothered beer cans

condemned years ago but never

Truly killed

blocked off from the children

who should have been raised there

looking back, I realize, 


My father wouldn't let me see his mistakes. 

and so, my sister and I were raised by my 

grandmother.


On the day I was born my grandmother 

planted

A poem in the ground that grew

and sprouted lemons


and at seven I would spit the seeds

into the sink where my grandfather skinned 

fish


and at nine I would take a fistfull of it’s 

bushy green

leaves and mix them into hosewater, to 

make soup for my dolls


And at eleven I would pet the shaggy old 

dog that laid

in the tree’s sweet lemony shade


And at fourteen I cried as my father clawed 

at the dirt

and pulled up the roots

and split the trunk of the sour dying tree

infested with tiny green bugs


And so, I wonder what I truly lost

behind those cracking locked doors?


Younger,

on a starless

Night in my grandmother’s garden

I sit for a while with my sister

with the terrace of sweet jasmine

above a swinging bench 

Waiting for my dad to visit


Through the rosy shadows, 

my sister’s face

is illuminated 

by White

Flashing 

Blinding 

Light. Smile, my grandfather demanded,

Snap, 


Childhood in a photograph


cemented in time was the moment


Where roaches writhe behind locked doors

and boxed wine rotted

as the wind blows

White blossoms into our hair