The Mormon Girl's Basement
by Theresa Boyar

Barefoot on this cement floor, I sit amid sacks
of powdered milk, swollen jars of loquat jelly.
Pickled eggs float in their solutions like fat moons.
I sit here while my mother teaches Bible class
to adult men in flannel shirts. Their nails are ragged,
their mouths unclean. I lean against rows
of shelves built by my father's stammering hands.
In corners, insects salvage soft nests
from the shavings. I trace the path of a beetle
through spilled flour. On the far wall, a blonde square
where the calendar used to be -- ocean scenes
from Miami to Monterey. It came down last August,
Cocoa Beach. The dim warmth of a single swaying
light bulb above me. The footsteps of my brothers and sisters.
I press my palms to globed bottles of clear vinegar.
Tins of beets in neat rows. An aisle of nothing
but sugar. In the afternoon hours, the cool floor
beneath me, while mother points to legendary seas,
and father brands the screaming lambs with paint.

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