When I think about my childhood home
Mom is hanging the laundry in the back,
Dad is mowing the lawn in the front,
my brothers are battling with green, plastic
army men in the dirt hole beside the garage,
my baby sister is sleeping in the buggy on the porch
and my dog is licking me and wants her belly rubbed.
All my stuff is there.
In the garage—
my pogo stick, hula hoop, and bike
with coloured streamers on the handlebars.
In my room—
Nancy Drews 1-5, a drawstring bag of jacks, my diary with a key,
my box of 64 crayons with the sharpener built right in.
In the record holder of the stereo cabinet—
“Let’s All Sing with the Chipmunks”. I loved Alvin.
On the mantel, my first Holy Communion photo.
I’m angelic in white dress, white veil, white ankle socks,
white patent leather shoes.
Boys couldn’t see the reflection
of my white underpants in those. Thank God.
In the medicine chest in the bathroom—
St. Joseph’s Aspirin, a thermometer, Colgate toothpaste
and the Vaseline Petroleum Jelly I used
to shine my shoes on Saturday nights.
And down the street—
all those tidy, green lawns
and tidy, shingled houses
with tidy, happy housewives
working in their gardens,
each one with her tools in a peach basket,
her pedal-pushers, sun hat,
and two breasts.
Everyone had two breasts.
My mom was the first to lose one. At 42.
4 years later, the other.
1 year later, her life.
Today, if you flew over that street,
or your own,
with a machine that detected families touched—
by breast cancer—
houses would light up creating concentrated constellations
to rival the night sky.