A house built on sand makes itself felt when a mother

hides glasses of whiskey in the drawers of her vanity table.

That our family was special and blessed was the wishful

fiction read to us children at bedtime. Asteroid and disaster

are linguistic siblings; the Milky Way is a road of milk, a spill

of cream in a black-coffee heaven; and stars, though regarded

as gods by the Greeks, are merely dense balls of gas that spewed

their chemical guts into the galaxy. “Let the stars sit where they will,”

Coyote cries in the Navajo myth, flinging up handfuls of glittering

mica that stick to the sky helter-skelter. My flame-haired mother

saw shades of gray that my father was blind to, yet she projected

her own tortured colors on each of us in turn, her afternoon empathy

sucking me in to be spat upon later. Etymologies tell more truth

about life than the words do themselves, as in the Greek prefix sark

linking “sarcasm” to sarcophagus, literal eater of flesh. Like my mother,

a star in its red giant phase, devouring her innermost planets, the milk

of her human kindness curdled by accusations that ripped me apart

like hyenas tearing the flesh from my bones. A star-crossed ancestral

curse hounded my Janus-faced mother, who winked out at last

like a star.

Sharon Whitehill

 Sharon Whitehill, a retired English professor from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, is currently enjoying her retirement in Port Charlotte, Florida. After years of hard work and dedication, she has achieved her dream of having her poems published in various literary magazines. She has authored two chapbooks titled “The Umbilical Universe” and “Inside Out to the World,” as well as a full collection called “A Dream of Wide Water.” In spring 2024, she will release her third chapbook titled “This Sad and Tender Time.”

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