Kitchen II

It was Saturday afternoon.
My sister had been gone three hours.
The door was closed.

Mom was inside, sighing.

…and his books aren’t selling.
He’s in Holyoke till tomorrow, probably buying shots
for Susan. That’s good.
Maybe Susan’ll finally get him a meeting
with her boss and we can loosen the collar.
When I signed on for those extra classes
I had no idea I’d have to extend
office hours, too. Joanne, I’m really afraid
I’ll never get to write my book.

Joanne was here?
She said something, but it was muffled.

Of course. I know, I know. Make time.
But where am I supposed to cut?

Mom took a deep breath.

I’m trying to remember being happy.
I can’t remember the last time we faced each other
in bed. It’s this constant pull:
I want to be here
for the kids, but my students
can’t even identify a thesis.
When did I become the Professor?
When did he become the Artist?

Then Joanne said, It’s really brave,
what you’re doing, trying
to support the house by yourself.
Remember that. Where is he now?

At Rusty’s, in his studio.
Sometimes he even sleeps there.
God, what I’d give for a month
without any schoolwork.
A week to relax;
three weeks to read and write.
Imagine what I could get done
in three weeks.

Mom sighed again.

Why don’t you take it? Joanne said.

Because he has to tour
all these conventions, or we have no chance
of selling the books. I have to sign on
for summer classes long before we’ll know
his schedule. It’s like we’re locked
into this horrible cycle.

Sarah, honey, Joanne says. My house
is your house. Come write by the ocean.
Write by candlelight, like Hemmingway.
Bring your books. You can flirt
with all the scandalously young men
hauling nets.

Whatever that meant.

Mom laughed. Her voice
was getting closer. I love it,
she said. I’ll be there soon
as I can get past the smell.

Added: March 19, 2013 | Last changed: August 16, 2014