Abigail Warren Dolinger grew up in Virginia, but currently lives and teaches in Western Massachusetts. Her poetry holds both her beginnings and her adult life in the Northeast. She was a recipient of the Rosemary Thomas Poetry Prize while at Smith.
The Lightness of Childhood
The hydrangeas roll in waves
along the roadside
the smell of honeysuckle fills the car.
Leaving Super 29 Drive-In, the night
gives little relief to the moist, southern heat.
I peel my bare legs from the leather seat,
my sister and brothers dozing all around me.
My father croons with Fats Domino on the radio,
but it is me he says he finds on Blueberry Hill.
Drifting off, I hope my father
still thinks I am young enough
to be carried in the house,
scooped up in his arms,
my hands around his oily neck,
the faint smell of whiskey on his breath.
But tonight he shakes my arm,
Wake up! Everyone out! he says,
I walk barefoot across the damp lawn;
moths beat their dusty wings
against the glass porch light.
I dry my feet with the bed sheets,
brushing the blades of grass out of the bed.
Tomorrow I’ll empty the porch light globe,
put the moths in a jar
that exhausted themselves
against the yellow light.