Sea of Glass
I have lost my way in my grandma’s paradise,
she instructing me to mend my ways or
I won’t go to heaven with her and me
wondering, “Is this the fork in the road,” and,
“should I take it?” Grandma’s paradise presses
angry clefts in my knees, stultifies
me against hardwood pews, breaks off
the moment it sticks in my back and I could
die of it, the only frills my puffed sleeves that
no one can see under this straitjacket and
I can’t wrestle free as Grandma pretends
you can skate on the Sea of Glass and
no one can see up your skirt.
I have lost my way in my grandma’s paradise
on its straight, narrow street, my eyes lined
like a whore and “for Pete’s sake, the
only reason to have nail polish is to
stop nylons from running,” and I wish
I could run faster than my nylons. God
doesn’t seem to care either way—
whether I bleed out in this hard-backed pew
with Grandma’s knife in my back or
I make a break for the field next door
and feel the prayer of my outstretched arms,
the straitjacket prostrate at my knees,
my palms tasting the dew of heaven,
face uplifted and a hallelujah escaping
through my lipstick.
The night the sky turned black with low clouds woven like a cherry-pie crust and I thought a violent death was thundering close, hell’s gates ready to swallow us whole as we scurried toward
the big top, its scantily-clad ladies seducing the eyes and minds of the weak, and I secretly thought the lady was amazing in her shimmery cerulean costume. I could see her whole legs, her whole shoulders, pointed toes in ballet shoes—sin-sin-sin—and you wanted me to look away, Mama, but I couldn’t avert my eyes from the loose woman, the devil at the door.
Afterward, I stood speechless before the red-cap who asked How did you like the show? How could I say I loved it and it mesmerized me when Mama stood, crushing my hand, tight-lipped and big-eared? How could I say I loved it so much I would remember for decades the night I came within an inch of hell and lived to think about it?