Sarah Detweiler, Mental Load #2 (Artist Website)
Watercolor and gouache on paper
9 x 9”

Your mother hasn’t left but is leaving
you messages in aerosols. Time to clean
your room,
says Fresh Cut Pine. Time to shower,
says Mediterranean Lavender. Time to learn
how to cook for yourself,
says your father
coming in for a drink—fixing the not yet broke,
but breaking station wagon donated by the parish,
your next fifteen years of Sunday mornings
now bound to them.    Time to take out the trash,
says Meadows & Rain, outside the clouds
are smiling, waving, but you don’t wave back,
you have homework and chores and vegetables
you can’t pronounce, to finish, because
you’re not grown, but growing, and there’s
starving kids in Africa,
says the refrigerator
white board, love mom, love dad, love; the sound
though their cracked bedroom door,
cracked window letting in the cold to teach you
quiet and disquiet are not opposites.   Time to plant
says Linen & Sky, but your father doesn’t
believe in almanacs, only in chemtrails, in the rain
trying to clean the tiles off the roof, hung over
the gutters, not yet frozen, but freezing. What year
is it?
asks the soft buzz of cathodes—your father
snoring in the living room, not yet sober,
but trying. Through the snow, your mother, driving
away, not yet asleep, but falling.

Ella Flores