–after Robert Hayden
On Sunday mornings, my father tiptoes
from the room where my mother sleeps
curled into her griefs. He closes the door,
careful not to let it creak.
I follow him into the laundry room where
he spreads old newspapers over the floor.
He sets out tins of polish, a brush
and flannel cloth. Picks up a shoe. Under
his breath he whistles a tune he claims
he listened to on the radio, as a boy–
When the Red, Red Robin. A happy song,
he says. Perhaps it’s because he whistles
off-key that it sounds sad.
What do I know about the sadness
in this house, the disappointments?
The way sun refuses to stipple
the walls? I look down at the daubs
of red, yellow, blue, and green
in the linoleum, playing a game:
If I find a cat in the pattern, I can
make a wish. But the daubs
are haphazard, there is no pattern.
Every week I look, but
there are never any cats.
Laura Ann Reed holds a BA in French/Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and completed Master’s Degree Programs in the Performing Arts, and Psychology. She was a dance instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to assuming the role of Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband now reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, and has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Grey Sparrow, Macqueen’s Quinterly, The Ekphrastic Review, and other journals