Mother's Kitchen


I remember when the kitchen floor was still linoleum
And you said it was alligator skin and I believed you
Our house was built on his back
But he doesn't mind


At the breakfast table I tucked my feet up under my lap
And reached down and dropped some Cheerios on the alligator’s back to see if he would flinch
I saved a handful of cereal and tossed it under the porch


At night
When my socks were full of eggshells
I crawled under the kitchen table
And laid down with a blanket covering my back like wings
To keep us warm and safe and believing


I pressed my head to your scales and swore I felt your fast heart beating
And though heard
Is that growling?
No, crying
“It’s just the wind,” you’d say in the morning


But I’d think it was the alligator under the house
I’d worry he listened to us and that we made him sad when we fought
Or when I doubted his existence


Eventually
My feet pressed down flatter and ground down all the eggshells to ash
And stopped eating breakfast with you at the table


Soon
You remodeled the kitchen
And ripped up the green and black crinkled alligator linoleum floor
Beneath I expected a heart in suspended animation
And expected him to turn around to say
"See that there?
That's the truth.
I told you I was real.
I hope you know I was good to you."


The floor is gray tile, now
When I listen I still hear my heart beating against the floor
And a sound that is not growling
No, crying


In the morning
I told you it was the wind
Yes— It was just the wind


Devon Roberts

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East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​