|FROM A BOY ON
A DREAM BED
my past flies back to me.
He is twelve years old.
I am thirty-eight
and should have known better.
I walk in my room
and find a cut joint
sitting in an ashtray
on my dresser.
I could have sworn
it was uncut when I left
And hadn’t I hidden it in the dresser drawer
sealed from inquisitive eyes?
Now the boy on the bed is grown.
He’s sprawled out, lounging,
wearing a new pair of jeans
and a crisp plaid shirt.
He’s just inhaled
and is quite content with himself
but then he looks over at me and Abe
and puts the joint out, saves
the half of it. I awaken,
find myself in the house
on Queen Anne Hill where we lived
when I was still a single parent.
I walk around the rooms
looking for Jackie and Ian.
They’re probably with my mother
at the nursing home.
I pick Scott up off the bed
and carry him out to the car.
He’s no longer a baby with asthma
He’s smoking and grown,
but still I carry him.
If I could,
I’d keep him in my pocket.
Esther Altshul Helfgott writes and teaches in Seattle, WA.
She edits the on-line literary anthology The Psychoanalytic Experience:
Analysands Speak and facilitates writing groups for women at Cancer
Lifeline. She is the author of The Homeless One: A Poem in Many
Voices (Kota Press, 2000), a work on homelessness and schizophreniaha,
among other works, and is the founding coordinator of Seattle’s
It's About Time Writers'
Reading Series, now in its 16th year. She grew up in Baltimore,
Md. Her poem, Daughters of Dementia, appeared in the Summer 2004
issue of PoetryBay.