Poems & Essays

21 Oct

Playground Three

General/Column No Response

How this mother


she was anywhere else but

            in this sandbox,

her son wrapped around her knees

            with sand-crusted fists

his mouth open

            in a perfect 


of despair



            without pausing for breath.


            examines her crimson nail polish

            (a chip on the right thumb)

readjusts her sunglasses

            (even though the sky is gun-metal grey)

then tugs at her wrists



as if searching for lost gems.

            How did she get here?

Why isn’t she dining on the terrace

            At The Hotel Negresco?

sipping Bellinis

            with men with lemon ties and azure eyes.

What happened

            To those sunlit Smith College classrooms

                        Inhaling books

and later

            clutching the hair

                        of an Amherst boy.

Why isn’t she young anymore?

            Her sigh

could be a crack in the earth,

            a din of thunder.

She stares down

            to see her little boy asleep

                        by her ankles,

            crumpled in his faded red jacket

                        like a pile of last autumn’s leaves. 

Penny Jackson’s stories and poems have appeared in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, StoryQuarterly, Real Fiction, The Croton Review, The Edinburgh Review, The Ontario Review and other magazines. Her stories have been published in the collection L.A. Child by Untreed Reads and her novel, BECOMING THE BUTLERS, was published by Bantam Books. She has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow in Fiction and also a Mireliies Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University. 

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Playground Two October 21, 2019 Playground One October 21, 2019