Brandi George

After Our Parents Get Divorced, Our Mother Buys an Ivy Stencil
December 22, 2020 George Brandi

After Our Parents Get Divorced, Our Mother Buys an Ivy Stencil


In the small white bedroom
in the small white house
in the small white town of Ovid    Michigan
on a rare weekend when Annette’s parents
drop her off                 we celebrate
they don’t want her hanging out with us
now that our mom is out every night
we sit on the floor in our bedroom
make doll clothes out of nylons
crop tops loincloths fringe
ink the male & female faces with eyeliner
paint their lips red
we search for dolls with unsmiling faces
cut off the top of their heads
glue on new hair         throw the smiling faces in the trash
Let’s say you want to send Death a note
we ask some frogs      they name their price
“We will fly it for some Cheerios”
we ask a mother   who with tote & ice
cream marvels at a bucket sandcastle
“I will give them for some berries picked
from bushes at the forest’s edge”      a passel
of yellow finches guard the fruits     we ask
“dear finches   may we have some fruit?”    they form
a golden ring               “well maybe if you bring
us spinach”     where on earth will we find some?
biking to the store for greens
we see it’s dark    too late       at last we read
“our love will transform darkness like a seed …”
Our new house feels dank
& it’s a fifteen-minute drive from Annette
but at least it’s not a trailer
in our blue bedroom
after Annette’s mom makes her go home
we knock over CD cases
scream into a pillow
unleash a large bag of cotton balls
once our parents divorced
the dream home sold
for less than they paid
but our mother was ready
to cut her losses
she has to live
for herself
she has to live for
herself now
she is only thirty-three
without our father to yell at her
for wasting water   our mother turns the sprinklers on
with abandon              she grows the yard alive
with daffodils magnolias crabapples tulips
& roses coneflowers asters    little green tomatoes
which she tends on Sundays
we paint our bedroom   white & blue
Renaissance angels    Madonna & Christ
fleshy cherubs             our mother is afraid
of their ethereal faces     cold eyes
in my room everything is heaven       white & blue
then our mother paints the rest of the house gold
traces every wall with an icy stencil
paints faux-stained glass on the windows
hangs dozens of mirrors    prints of mountains rivers
copper owls     amethyst   pillar candles    blue glass
philodendrons   aloe   peace lilies   Norfolk pine

Brandi George is the author of Gog (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) and the play in verse, Faun (Plays Inverse, 2019). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Fence, and Orion. She teaches writing in Fort Myers, Florida.