Driving home from the doctor

you take a wrong turn

past the apartment building

you grew up in. You feel

 

that queasy déjà vu,

until you recognize it,

 

crumbling at the edges,

sludge-green stucco

turning gray.

 

The place looks strangely small.

 

The wrought iron rails

along the stairs

look loose,

even from the street.

 

A ’76 Nova at the curb

with a cracked windshield

could have been your neighbor’s.

 

And you remember

an afternoon like this one:

muggy, brown outside

and getting darker.

 

Sunday dinner,

your mother, wearing black,

her silver roots showing, while you,

 

looking out the window

see in the smudged glass, not

the street outside,

 

but the dimmed reflection

of your face, smooth and hairless

in the fading light.

 


 

R.S. Mengert was born in Boston and grew up in L.A and Las Vegas. He currently lives in Tempe, Arizona, and teaches Creative Writing at Phoenix College. He completed an MFA in poetry at Syracuse University in 2011. He has won The Joyce Carol Oates Award for Poetry, and was a 2011 summer fellow at The Collegeville Institute. His work appears in ABZ, The Café Review, San Pedro Review, Snail Mail Review, Fjords, and Enizagam.

To read more poems about the joys of recollecting of childhood, order Four Chambers 01 here.