kelly bell photography CC
Little Queen of the Buck-Up
The balloon was helium-filled, a jack-o-lantern
smiling down from the ceiling of a Dollar Store,
shimmery orange face in a sea of foil zeppelins.
Molly’s legs dangled through holes of the metal
cart I pushed, her chin up when she spotted it, pointed, please!
and how could I not buy it for her? Little queen
of the buck-up, the brush-it-off. Her visits with her mother
ever rarer now. My daughter whom we’d picked up, who’d
climbed in the backseat next to her carseat to snuggle,
piggy-backed her into the store, then vacated into the aisles.
The balloon was helium-filled, a jack-o-lantern.
How could I not buy it for her? Little queen of the stiff
upper lip, the dry eye, who watched her mom exit
the car when we dropped her off, fingers clasping the ribbon.
When in my yard, the string slipped; orb lifting into sky, going
from moon-size, to pinprick, to gone, Molly cried and cried.
Susan Vespoli writes from Phoenix, Arizona. Her work has been published in Rattle, Anti-Heroin Chic, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, Mom Egg Review, and others. Her full-length collection about addiction in her family, Blame It on the Serpent, will be published by Finishing Line Press in January 2022. All proceeds will be donated to addiction support and recovery organizations. https://susanvespoli.com/
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