It's not that we don't love you, Mother says,
but we don't love each other anymore.
I stand before her and Father. They sit
on the newly reupholstered sofa.
They sit real close not to like each other.
That's right, son, Father says--your mother's right.
Oh, I say, my hands behind my back and
my bladder filling up. I hope I don't
pee my pants but I'm a little nervous.
What we've decided to do, Mother says,
is separate a while. Right, Father says
--I'll be living somewhere else for a spell
but I'll be over Sundays to see you.
Sundays. That's when God rests. Ed Sullivan
is on TV then. And if I have homework
on the weekend I do it Sunday nights.
Oh, I echo--I don't know what to say
but I ought to make a sound to stay in
practice and Oh's as good as anything
--it makes a big hole of my mouth and holds
everything else I could think of to add
if only I could think. If I've got them
right, Mother and Father hate each other
but they both love me. And I love them, too.
Suddenly I feel old, as old as God.
If you loved me you would love each other,
I blurt. I don't know how I know that but
it's so. They look at the rug. I look, too,
but faster. When I look at them again
they're still looking down. Mother starts to cry
and Father puts his arm around her. She
moves closer to him. Now they both hate me.
That's more like it. They're going to be fine.
© 2011 Gale Acuff
Gale Acuff has poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Verse Wisconsin, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, Amarillo Bay, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review,Sequential Art Narrative in Education and many other journals.
She has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).
She has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.
She is an American teaching in China. She is interested in recalling childhood experiences and trying to recognize something extraordinary in them.