There was no air conditioning in summer,
our mothers made sure of that.
The air was thick like yams and our bodies
sticky, fingers syrupy and throats thirsty.
I imagine us eleven or twelve with
bodies beginning to U-shape like hairpins.
Us, longing to fill in our training bras and longing
for mothers who would teach us how.
Mothers who listened, drove carpool,
made friends with other mothers, could sew
a costume, could give a damn. Mothers who worked
a decent living to afford air conditioning.
We would not meet until some twenty years later -
long after our fathers were gone, and our mothers
might as well have, long after we left those
rust belt summers and chalky childhoods.
It’s hard to imagine now, in northern California
with our double pools and breeze, how we ever
were where time was perennial like mosquito bites,
and the harshest sting were our mother’s tongues.