house of beauty just three houses down from my pale green house a magnificent dark red house sat regally on a throne of both beauty & possibility on a street that never quite fit in with the rest of the city it was a dead end, in a time & place undefined by class middle, less than that, but all otherwise, the same —more or less except #44 it was the only house on the street with a fence around the front how rich they must be, I thought to be able to have a fence in the front a small white sign with black writing hung & swung from a black post behind that fence with scrolled letters Willie Mae’s House of Beauty my mother would send me if I was lucky, with 2 quarters to buy us each a candy bar that Willie Mae would stock on a small shelf in her makeshift waiting room in her basement I would look at myself in her big mirror that sat in front of her 2 chairs, that spun around soaking in the smells of hair products, so different than my own & listen to the women talk about their lives that somehow existed outside the House of Beauty their hair so curly & beautiful made my own brown, flat hair feel lifeless and vanilla she would explain to me why she could not make mine, look like theirs, but still, every time I walked down her backstairs quarters in hand I dreamed that she could make my hair kinky & shiny while I talked & twirled because in the House of Beauty anything was possible or so I wanted to believe.
nothingness I was drunk when they came for me, to keep me safe from myself, he said but that was a goddam lie & everyone knew it broken knuckles, bruised beaten, wrapped tightly but the silicone pink bracelet twisted and rubbed under my cast pushed, taunted & reminded that I was no one no one that could fight no one that could win and no one that mattered much to anyone neighbors peeked out, porch lights flicked on I could see them from my place, face down on the hood of the dirty police car click click went the handcuffs it was summer not so long ago really, but a lifetime for her and many but that didn’t matter either nothing did or ever would again not in any way that mattered anymore
Newbury Street my Papa smoked a pipe & watched hockey with the sound off, in another room from where I played quietly with my Lincoln Logs Nana, who was supposed to die long before I came around, had the doctors been right about her throat cancer sat in the corner, surrounded by various clocks that ticked on knitting & clucking trying to keep her mouth moist somehow since her body stopped making saliva she made gawumpki’s he gave butterfly kisses & we lived with them one summer, so very long ago most days I had a bellyache nervous, she’s just nervous my mother would say dismissing my pain, probably to dismiss her own it didn’t matter though & eventually we moved, but my bellyache stayed
A Date with the Lord the morning I met the Lord was exactly as I imagined it would be. the air, both, briny & candied plump with salt from the Irish Sea & sweet from the River Liffey tickled as I inhaled but that did not stop me from breathing in life. some, even most, — maybe, would not find it pleasant or pleasing, but for me it was perfection, on an early summer Dublin morning, before businesses opened, but not before business happened, with horse drawn carriages & guitar players & those offering blessings of good fortune, wishing me well, after several donations. I paid the price, I owed maybe even, a little more than that which pleased us both —equally. God bless you said more than money could buy maybe I’m hungry, she said, although she looked neither the kind of person to offer a blessing that had the chance of sticking, or someone whose dinner plate was empty often but, I had seen her before, believed her then, that blessing so, I dropped another heavy coin into her cup, clanging & shuffled along Dawson Street because, it mattered not I had a date with the Lord after-all & had no time to wonder if the woman I never thought I would see again —but did could grant the wish offered up to Eire. finally, I had come upon the Mansion House more than what it seemed, initially set back without the warmth & cool of thick mossy blades of emerald patchwork still though, warm enough welcoming enough, although no mat said so, and the giant brass, doorbell that rang to the unknown, still, did not dissuade me from my date with the Lord. I had an appointment after all. my clothes, comfortable but not my finest, reminded me, without knowledge or preconceived notions that I was, home in a place that accepted me as is. and in that moment, those moments, as we sipped tea & the outside came to life I was —happy.
Fireflies I recall them, as beacons of hope & faith from my childhood buzzing and banging, gently against the glass walls of my Nana’s mason jar lighting the way, selflessly just for a moment, a heartbeat tick between the tock contained. I unscrew the lid, set them free, and watch them blink into the hush of the late summer’s night. I recall them, these memories not as the embers they were - hovering, clanking against the mental box I put them in, As they feverishly try to burn down my construction paper childhood. I recall them, as — fireflies "Fireflies" and other poems are © Christine A. Brooks
Christine A. Brooks is a graduate of Western New England University with her B.A. in Literature and her M.F.A. from Bay Path University in Creative Nonfiction. A series of poems, The Ugly Five, are in the 2018 summer issue of Door Is A Jar Magazine and her poem, The Writer, is in the June, 2018 issue of The Cabinet of Heed Literary Magazine. Three poems, Puff, Sister and Grapes are in the 5th issue of The Mystic Blue Review. Her vignette, Finding God, is in in the December 2018 issue of Riggwelter Press, and her series of vignettes, Small Packages, was named a semifinalist at Gazing Grain Press in August 2018. Her essay, What I Learned from Being Accidentally Celibate for Five Years was recently featured in HuffPost, MSN, Yahoo and Daily Mail UK. Her book of poems, The Cigar Box Poems, is due out in late 2019.
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