The past is a set of white curtains, a window
nailed shut beyond which everyone
is happy. There is no death, no disillusionment.
No one is sick. My parents’ faces
are filled with light, as if their minds are made
of birthday candles, never blown out.
Who could wish for more than what they have,
already? I can see clearly, the perfect
body of my childhood—the girl with black hair
who runs and jumps with ease,
to whom pain means nothing more than skinned
knees or a baby tooth pulled from our mouths
by a string. And look at all the people—
aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends
and neighbors—my little brother trailing his big
sister like a tracker. And there is the house
I loved—glider on the front porch, swings in the
back—the kitchen table surrounded
by yellow chairs that seem so close, I can almost
touch them. Yet, the glass remains cold,
unyielding, impossible to shatter, the curtains
a pair of specters haunting the same small space.
• • •
Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of five collections of poetry, including her latest book, Becoming the Blue Heron (Press 53, 2017). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, storySouth, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, 2013 Poet’s Market, and many others. Awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Award and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina. Her website is www.terrikirbyerickson.com