“To Santa Claus and Little Sisters”
Once on yellow paper, with green lines, he wrote a poem and called it “Chops” because that was the name of his dog and that’s what it was all about, and the teacher gave him an “A” and a gold star and his mother hung it on the kitchen door and read it to all his aunts
That was the year his little sister was born with tiny toenails and no hair, and Father Tracey took them to the zoo and let them sing on the bus, and his father and mother kissed a lot and the girl around the corner sent him a Christmas card signed with a row of kisses and his father always tucked him in at night and he was always there to do it.
Once on white paper, with blue lines, he wrote another poem and he called it “Autumn” because that was the name of the season and that’s what it was about and the teacher gave him an “A” and told him to write more clearly and his mother didn’t hang it on the kitchen door because the door had just been painted.
That was the year that his sister got glasses with black frames and thick lenses and the kids told him why his mother and father kissed a lot and that Father Tracy smoked cigars and left the butts on the pews and the girl round the corner laughed when he went to see Santa Claus at Woolworths and his father stopped tucking him in at bed at night and got mad when he cried for him to
Once on paper torn from his notebook, he wrote another poem and he called it “Question Marked Innocence” because that was the name of his grief and that’s what it was all about and the professor gave him an “A” and a strange and steady look and his mother never hung it in the kitchen door because he never let her see it
That was the year he found his sister necking in the back room and his parents never kissed or even smiled and he forgot the end of the Apostles Creed and Father Tracey died and the girl around the corner wore too much make up and made him cough when he kissed her, but he kissed her anyway
Once at 3am he tucked himself in bed, his father snoring loudly he tried another poem on the back of a pack of matches and called it absolutely nothing, because that’s what it was all about and he gave himself an “A” and a slash on each damp wrist and hung it on the bathroom door because he couldn’t reach the kitchen.
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