By Kelly Grace Thomas


I remember the day they turned off the power,

Before then you had done a good job, hiding the cost of suburban standards

You promised yourself I wouldn’t feel the same shame that post carded your adolescent.

Insecurities wouldn’t hang in my closet, on empty embroider hangers with outdated monogrammed beliefs.

You made sure I had clothes that looked like I was dressed by a two-parent income,

even if it broke the only parent left. 

My sister and I sat in the living room asking what we did to make the

 electric company so


We played with flashlight halos and smiles like poetry,

watching one another glow, together we confronted dark corners as you paced in yours

in the kitchen where fed your demons,

 juggling adding machines and  reputation

and a body you found so hard to love.


You hands empty- feeling like you had failed to keep it all out.  

You hands full-cleaning up the mistakes of my father’s wake

Nailed to the cross, this burden of bankruptcy, silently teaching

that is a woman’s job to clean up after the mistakes

of men,

burdened by gender and a survival

I watched you cry as you removed every seed from my watermelon slice.

That is love,I thought, knowing Jessie’s mom told her to just spit them out.

My teeth never found the earthy crunch, because you took every effort to have us live in comfort

but then they changed the locks.


Evicted from security,

our driveway became a waiting room,

Where we searched for a plan in old handprints of cement,

remembering the day we moved into the castle believing in fairytales.

Now the neighbors houses were museums, where we hid all our prizes possessions,

They would not repose our dignity, you said.

Grandmother’s wedding ring hid two blocks down,

 some sparkle you lassoed hope to, to prove to your children

there was romance in this family, once.

Your Tiffany’s wedding china, at the red house on the right, only half a set left,

the other sold after the school complained about a disconnected phone throwing the

words child  and welfare into conversation.

I know twenty years later this scenario is still balled and chained to your story.

Thinking somehow you made this choice, neither superhero nor saint.

Thinking this childhood memory would disease us with issues of trust and security.

But you were always there. The roof over our heads,

when the sideways rain of disappointed beat on window panes.

You were the ground beneath our feet that taught us seeds of creativity

are watered with struggle.

You were the sunrise and sunset and because of your glow,

I always know in which direction to walk.