Our House is Open

The child is throwing darts at an underwater target. He is like a secret society all by himself. His mother calls him to dinner. He flies across the parched lawn, hops on one foot and then the other over the baking asphalt, where his toys are broken and scattered. Every other day he bemoans their condition, begs for more. Tonight everyone will eat Mother’s diet food: pickled beets and toast. A Popsicle for the boy if he eats it all. The man will read the “Believe It Or Not News” to his wife and boy at the table because other news gives indigestion, encourages the kind of crying that can go on forever. He will try them with this: The 900 year old heart of an Irish saint has gone missing. The parish priest is saddened. Disappointed.
“Will it come back?” the child will ask, confused. His mouth will be red, turned down at the corners. He’d like that cherry popsicle to cool his thirsty throat. What would this heart look like? The wife will wonder as she places one hand above the other. The husband, the father, this man of the house, will set his mouth grim and brush toast crumbs off of the table onto the floor where the marauding ants will carry them away. Each of them will rise from the table with the lethargy of those living on the wrong side of the hemisphere. They will console themselves thus: this is the realm of wanting what you don’t have. This is the realm of quite possibly losing everything you’ve already got.

Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She is the author of four fiction and prose poem chapbooks. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She blogs on social justice, immigration, and migration at sempresicilia.wordpress.com.