Charles Cantrell



Our cuckoo clock wouldn’t work,

and when my mother turned it over a wing fell off.

Teary-eyed, she asked me to glue back the feathers,

then she sang, "Tyger, tyger burning bright…"

Said "The tiger’s me. I’d like to put on my red dress

and go dancing at The Green Frog,

but your dad’s still jangling keys."

He worked nightwatch at the auto plant.


My mother worked a broom under the sofa,

where, she swore, armies of spiders plotted overthrow.

Of what? I didn’t know. My head in a comic,

she walked by, whispered, "That will turn your brain

to oatmeal." She put on a record, said, "I’ll teach you

to dance." A violin sounded off key, the needle

etching a deeper groove on Tennessee Waltz.


Where crescendo should’ve moved me, I pouted,

backing away. She danced back and forth,

cigarette between her lips.

Though she wasn’t wearing her red dress,

she danced and smoked and labored for love,

holding her arms out in a circle.

Copyright © 2003 Charles Cantrell.  All Rights Reserved.

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