That Summer

by Alison Taverna

My mother vanishes from dinner parties:
card nights with the neighbors; Budweiser, burgers, tortellini salad.

The guests cross lawns like sidewalks, smell of sunscreen, our front door
             open.
At night our house buzzes like the backs of lighting bugs.

My mother is in the garage
between the lawn mower and water can       smoking.

In two hours I will see my father washing dishes,
ask where she is, but he won’t say,     though he knows.
I won’t then or now understand

how at 11, sure, I crept
to the garage. It was the
                                         drop
of quick dread, the summer ending.

There—legs propped on a spare tire, I see her.
A sworn quitter, hidden,
as she licked the rings of smoke from the air.