Home » poet » Birdhouse – by Julienne Johnson

Birdhouse – by Julienne Johnson

image source:google images

image source:google images

You can’t pick a metaphor with a roller skate key
so I kept my secrets there
hidden under a hammock
where Butchie and I were trying hard to balance
younger then, peaches that still had fuzz — holding tight
the woven grey canvas swinging from the green metal frame
pushed to the farthest edge of our mowed square
far as we can go — you know the rules:
one half-acre of green limit
crab grass, sassy as ever
Kentucky Blue, and dandelions —
yellow crayolas rub ’em under my chin
see if I’m tellin’ the truth —
see — no yellow, told ya so!

swinging but trying not to
so our dinners wouldn’t spill
leaning toward the center of each other
to fill up that empty space we felt there;
I loved being close to Butchie
he was my picnic table
like he hid under
last time he ran away
almost got to Ohio

trembling together that day
still in dirty swimsuits — wet
kids play under sprinklers – sizzling hot heavy Michigan days
but now it had cooled down
little bodies wearing goose bumps
balancing plates on laps
burned green peas and hard hamburgers
a slice of white Silvercup bread on top of tears
trying not to fall into the empty wheelbarrow we watched
out in a field of catsup
that we were afraid to ask for
we kept our eyes on a robin dancing on the wooden handle
while hundreds of Black-eyed Susans
like me — looked for a four-leaf clover
but it was so hard to see through the blur
eat your God-damned dinner or the belt
no pants — again
Dad wore his weapon
had a way with keeping his word

I see the Birdhouse.
Butchie made it with his new jigsaw
a Christmas present
he was only six
so proud of that Birdhouse
he could hardly wait for Dad to come home
Dad left on Mondays and came back on Fridays
eight years of peace in the middle
Hammer! I see the hammer too
rusty with a worn oak handle
blue shingles — orange somewhere

Butchie loved to build things
and I loved Butchie
My Father smashed the whole thing
all on one Friday night
an ugly pumpkin!
only 15 minutes home
I wanted to hold Butchie so he could hold me
Lifesavers from the same package that stick together
but we had separate bedrooms
walls — grey between us — walls
and no crying
wasn’t allowed on the new yellow bedspread
or anywhere else in their house
a night stand stained with maple pushed against the bed skirt
it was hard to see through the plaid — hear them coming
so much dust under the bed

but back to the hammock…
Butchie and I weren’t very hungry for peas and cotton
even the lilacs blooming in the corner knew
we hated our Father
our mother was dying, trying – again
on a rainbow she longed to ride out
red yellow blue — all in one swift swallow
faster than you can crush a ripe wild strawberry
the red must have stopped her… same as before

“Who are you? Please help me. I want my Daddy.”

“It’s me Mommy. Don’t be afraid, I’ll take care of you.”
but where’s Butchie, the lilacs, the four-leaf clovers?

older now, fuzz free, face down, Rolex up on a Persian carpet
his own kids in Jordan Airs — stepping over him
a bridge between two chairs
smashed
cheers — to the Birdhouse.

Julienne Johnson
http://www.julienneART@me.com

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