ELECTRIC BOAT

 

All morning they waited for the sun

to rise. The four small sisters, each of them

unfurling a single braid laced with traces

of the night’s long sleep, the one boy

rubbing the eyes his parents had praised

god for, loudly and secularly, when

they first held him. The light’s last

appearance and disappearance had

occurred as expected, by pocket-watch

or by the plastic egg timer beside the stove.

Neither of them seemed any use now,

the curtains drawn tight behind the few

small windows, red darkness warming

the house. It had started with their father,

with one of his usual explosions: something

unhearable to the children, a complaint

about the factory floor, then an ugly slur

and a silence. When the five flushed faces

darted out, their father’s mouth was

frozen wide, his cheeks askew. Snakes

coiled outward from the well of his throat

and around his head, their papery tongues

flicking. Later from the beds they fled to

the children would hear the screen door’s

clack and know it was their mother, undone

by the finality of the two syllables, letting

the stalled night swallow her whole.

 

 

Suzanne Manizza Roszak is an assistant professor of English at East Carolina University. Her poetry has appeared in Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry Northwest, Puerto del Sol, and Third Coast.

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