My mother would drag the rugs out
of our red brick house, one-by-one
down the steps, in front of the neighbors.
She beats the rugs with her broom
as if they are flesh-eating aliens.
I want to scream, “No!” “Stop!”
but all I can do is cover my face
with my hands. I smell my breath—
maple syrup, challah, sour milk.
If only I had a stick of peppermint gum,
everything would be a lot better.
Sherri Levine is a poet and artist living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of In These Voices and is the recent recipient of the Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize. Her poetry and art have appeared in the Timberline Review, CALYX, Driftwood Press, Willawaw Journal, The Opiate. Visit her website for more information.