by Mary Panza
I told her
We are barefoot people
The summer I was 13 is a blur to me now
I had mono and I can remember going to sleep in early July
Waking up for some orange juice
And going back to sleep until the middle of August
I can remember being tired for weeks wanting to show off my 30lb weight loss to the kids on my block.
Hindsight being 20/20 I should have stayed on the couch with my mother close by. We should have watched what Erica Kane was up to on that particular day. We should have talked about what was really happening around us. We should have had an exit strategy that didn’t involve valium or Carlo Rossi. We should have done a lot of things we weren’t allowed to do.
He was sick of me being sick. He thought it was a ploy to get out of getting some kind of a job.
The man who called himself my father was a bastard.
He comes to me in the form of saltines and milk. It was the dessert of growing up poor. My daughter has a fascination with saltines. She tells me they are good in milk. I spit between my index and middle finger. It is a gesture taught to me by a book. He is blind to her on the other side but he still manages to get a dig in at me.
He was a bastard.
My daughter is outside in the summer. She swims and plays and smiles as much as a 13 year old thinks is cool. She takes tennis lessons and is smart and proud. I pray she never has to fall asleep to escape only to wake up and still be sleepy.
We don’t wear high heels
We are barefoot people.
MARY PANZA (https://albanypoets.com/category/events/poets-speak-loud/) has been a mainstay on the Albany Poetry scene since 1988. She has been witness to countless open mics, naked poets, fires, drunks, chapbooks, career changes, organizations (both coming and going), festivals, and great poetry and spoken word. She had her poems published in zines all through the ’90s and early 2000s.
She is vice president of Albany Poets and host of Poets Speak Loud, an open mic that lasted 15 years. She writes a biweekly (sort of) blog entitled Housewife Tuesday.
She was on her way living the rest of her life as a party girl when (at 37) the party really began when she became a mother.