Boundary

Driving through an unfamiliar neighborhood,
I remarked on how almost every house had doors
and windows with security grilles—

And I remembered one Saturday long ago:
me a child just taken out of the bath,
my mother vigorously toweling

my hair; the bedroom door ajar, the sounds
beyond of carpenters we’d hired, repairing
the fence and kitchen floor— Then,

an unfamiliar body, blur moving with speed,
knife in hand, through the outer hall:
commotion in the yard, incredulous

rain of nails, clatter of sawhorses, sharp-
punctured cries— Was that the sound of a fist
breaking a jaw? And I was gathered up

as my mother ran, though she ran toward
and not away, her voice a skillet coming down
hard, commanding a stop to whatever madness

had erupted in our midst. I can’t remember
exactly now if it had to do with the foreman’s
gambling debts, some drunken dalliance

or other vile offense. But clasped in the damp
towel to her heaving chest, I felt the walls
grow permeable: shells of spackled paper.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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