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Painting the Garage

The only thing I’d imagined bigger was the backyard.
And missing: pheasants across the street, the brush,

too, and the willow, which we may have dug up
ourselves before leaving.  Brown tractor tire?

Still around the maple’s base.  The new mom
and three daughters stepped onto the back-door stoop.

I dipped my brush in a bucket of glue,
pulled the bristles across their young lips.

They sat at the kitchen table as I opened
their fridge, stuck my tongue into a jar of frosting,

tore into their cake. After she ate, the mother
followed me with laundry on her hip,

like she was missing, too.  Through my bedroom window,
the girls gawked with dark eyes at falling leaves.

Beneath their garage’s inner walls were the brick and mortar
I remembered. I painted each brick white, watched it dry

as the mother set the porch swing on the picnic table,
letting her feet dangle.  When the paint set, I peeled

blue tape from the panes through which each of my leaves
had fallen, and rode down Miami Circle on my bike.
Posted 03/28/13
Appears in Midwestern Gothic, Issue 8
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