“The Inheritance” by donnarkevic, published in Many Sparrows, to be released in December 2018 by The Poetry Box.
Mrs. Reznik, the mother of that boy
who hanged himself, visits Mom.
They sway on the front porch swing
and talk quiet as Confession.
Sitting on the useless milk box,
I bounce a red ball against the house
without Mom yelling.
When Mrs. Reznik pulls a Kleenex from her purse,
Mom nods her head, mentions my name,
says everything will be okay,
her voice like when I scrape a knee.
As the woman leaves, she stops to look at me.
I’m wearing a pair of her son’s double knee denims.
Bending down, she kisses my forehead.
Her dangling gold earrings jingle.
She thanks me.
For what, I don’t know.
At supper, Mom tells Dad the news.
Cutting a pork chop, he nods approval,
asks for more coffee.
The next day, Mr. Reznik hurries me
as I haul forty-seven newspapers
in a pregnant canvas bag.
He tells me I make nothing but mistakes:
walk too slow,
fold papers too loose, too tight,
tramp too close to Mrs. Tomo’s flower bed.
When I drop a paper into a muddy puddle,
he shouts, You’re just as stupid as . . .
But he stops yelling, stares at the ground
as though he lost something,
then picks up the soggy bundle,
trying to wipe it dry like a tear.
I’m sorry, he says to the puddle.
I feel like rain.
Each collection day, Mr. Reznik tips fifty cents,
asks me how I’m doing,
waves goodbye from the porch,
and watches me go door to door
until I know he can’t see me anymore.