last child

We come home from school, my brothers and I,
to find
another cardboard box full of fruit, dumped
on the kitchen floor.

a family double our size wouldn’t be able to finish
it all, before the contents blackened into
inedible mushy shadows on the khaki brown

(the fridge can never take anymore, stuffed as it is)

Over the next few days,
we give away what we can:

Slowly, secretively, sneaked out in
our school bags, or stuffed in
blazer pockets
– bananas first (always first)
(they so easily break out into soggy despair),
then oranges (before they gag on their own thirst), perhaps then
the hardy apples, like foot soldiers, often standing till the end

Redistributing the evidence
of my mother’s addiction to
amassing objects
needlessly, endlessly,
Provocatively

This habit we picked up from our dad
who, every few months,
Explodes at finding
yet another pyramid of tinned saltwater salmon
in the cupboard,
Or a fresh stash of meat
in the extra deepfreeze we had to buy
to accommodate my mother’s
wants

He redistributes too,

But there is nothing quiet or secretive
in his way – tins are pulled off the shelves
and flung into
the open maws of garbage bags
and meat flung out onto the floor
like frozen cymbals

(my mother later repacks this all out again
when he has
‘calmed down’

She says he does it ’cause
He likes things ordered,
neat,
clean,
only what is necessary
belongs)

Sometimes I wonder if she does it to
irk him,
egg him on,
if it isn’t a game she plays to see
how far she can push him, how much
he loves her

It’s not only food, you know, but
oddbits, like buttons, glass
bottles, old magazines, pieces of
electronics, possibles, maybes, things
We might use later

our house always
the warzone of my mother’s collecting
and my father’s cleaning

And I, last child of three,
late by 4 years,
unplanned,
unwanted girl,
where do I fit in,
I sometimes wonder

Am I her way of winning
another battle, another
feather in her cap
– something they didn’t need, but something
he can’t throw away

For in all her excess that smothers me: her hair
her nose, her shape,
it is his eyes
that look out my face

crippling him

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~ by translating for peas on January 29, 2010.

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