The Rest of Her Days
The night before I laid
her clothes for the next day
on her pink chair and wiped
her lens, placed the glasses
in their purple case—click. Lying
next to her, we finished her favorite
book for the hundredth time
and we said good night, love,
snuggle, kiss, kiss with two hugs.
That morning she watched me struggle
with the black tights while
the bathroom fan roared and she
latched my new necklace
with her cold small hands.
She prepared my lunch bag,
two soda cans, two bananas,
and a tub of hummus with pita bread,
and I signed her school
planner which she never
remembered to put out
the night before. The car
windows were frosty so
while we waited for the ice to melt,
we sat in the car jamming
to the Jackson 5—I want you back
repeating until the view was clear.
When we arrived at school,
she hopped out and slammed
the door—a guarantee that
the door was closed. So many
times I’d driven away
with the warning chiming
that her car door was left ajar
and then I had to find a place
to pull over to close it. Now
she made sure it was secure,
and I appreciated it.
After that, the drive to work,
but not this day. Instead,
I drove and drove and drove
and drove, and I did not
pick her up from school or answer
the repeated phone calls. This time
I was free, and she will
think it was easy—I had no
second thoughts or doubts.
I will never tell her that
every day was the same day—
trapped in the Groundhog Day movie,
but Bill Murray wasn’t there
to pull in the laughs and after
three decades this endless loop, destined
to last for eternity, snapped.
Every song I loved buffered
due to a slow internet connection
until I stood up and tore
the cords from the wall and threw
the desktop computer from
the second-story window.
I will never tell her that
I was a woman with a tumor,
a foot that had fallen asleep
and never woke up,
an arm trapped under a tree trunk,
an open wound in the neck
that reeked of rust and gut,
a canker sore covered in salty clear pus,
a cataract blinding the eye,
this glare off a semi's side mirror.
My name will be that
paper cut on the fold
of skin between the index finger
and thumb. When she picks
up a pen to sign her name,
the cut will fling insults.
When she hands in her school papers,
it will sting. When she unloads
the dishwasher while listening
to the radio, and Michael comes on
ready to dance or start something,
the spoon will transform into
a microphone, the tile floor, a stage,
and she will sing sing sing. I will stay
40 years old for the rest of her days.
Cat Dixon is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and The Book of Levinson and Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2017, 2015). She is the Managing Editor of The Backwaters Press and she teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska. Website: www.catdix.com.