Personal Narrative, Poetry

Instant Family as a Source of Independence?

I wrote in the “Welcome to S|F Blog” post that I had been writing a lot in many genres after my sister died and her four and five-year old sons, my mother, and my blind, partially crippled, on dialysis, estranged father came to Minneapolis to live with me. I lived in one unit of a two bedroom duplex with a basement, porch, and a yard. Not the most ideal situation, but more so than their previous one. I remember hustling around trying to outfit my, until then, bachelor apartment in the city into a family dwelling. It was a whirlwind of shopping, cleaning, painting, and putting together furniture that found me, on the Fourth of July, anxiously and optimistically waiting, standing in the yard as they pulled up, weary, anxious, and perhaps less optimistic than was I. The poem I wrote, “To Create A Home For You,” is from my collection Behind This Cloudiness: poems during mourning that encounters my sister’s death and subsequent snapshots during the mourning process. S|F Blog*

To Create A Home For You


I salvaged my chair and couch set, white—
freckled with red and blue random threads
(but, honestly, what thing perceived is truly random?)
from the curb across the street from my house.

I didn’t have a stove and my refrigerator hummed
the familiar sounds of a breakdown.
I purchased a used tan one for twenty-five dollars,
got a matching stove with two faulty burners for free.

By crowded city bus, to and from The Home Depot
with faux adhesive flooring, paint brushes, scrapers,
stripper, and gallons of paint for my kitchen—
a furious shade of terra cotta.

I rode a quiet train to a store
next to the largest mall in America
that sells discount furniture because
you have to assemble it yourself:
A drop-leaf kitchen table, four chairs, bunk beds,
a red leather chair, matching ottoman, a lamp,
and a navy and light blue sleeper sofa
to match my living room walls.

When you arrived, early morning, the Fourth of July,
the paint was still drying, the floor remained unfinished,
and the smell of cardboard and plastic infused the air.


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