I can’t sleep. The el rumbles across the street, and the neighbor’s porch light burns all night. Did they forget to turn it off, or are they like me, leaving it on in case
somebody comes knocking? That makes me think of the Grim Reaper, who hasn’t
come knocking yet. My dad’s still here, and a few hours later I visit him in the hospital,
where he’s getting a blood transfusion, which gives him a jolt and his spirits are lively. He’s telling me about buying the blueprints for our split-level house outta a magazine
back in ’61. Only cost fifteen bucks! He borrowed five grand from a lawyer client to buy the lot. Talk about a shoestring. Then his moment of genius, standing on the second floor,
the rooms framed out, the closets too, but no walls yet, no plaster. He looked through the opening and saw straight from the second floor down to the basement and thought,
laundry chute! He got a sheet metal guy from Dolton to hammer out the lining and built an opening high enough that a toddler couldn’t climb into it. When my cousins came over
we’d throw pool balls down the chute. It made a racket so bombastic, the grown-ups shouted for mercy. All my life clothes fell down that chute, into a closet that was never
empty, bursting with sheets and school blouses, baseball uniforms, damp towels, tube socks and toe socks, pedal pushers and pantyhose. The mountain never went down, just
spilled out of the closet, onto the basement floor. At ten I started to fish out my
blouses and socks and throw on a load all my own. I was in a fastidious stage, ironing
pleats in my plaid uniform skirt, my blue jeans, and the arms of my white school blouses.
That’s a phase from my childhood my father never knew about, and now’s not
the time to talk about a young girl’s grave chores. I’m here for his stories, but then
my cell rings, time to pick up the baby. My dad starts to cry, his thin face
waxy and pale. He says, you’ve heard these stories a million times, and I say no,
I never heard the one about the laundry chute. He says, yes, it was incredible. I looked
right down there and saw it! Something to make your mother’s life easier.
Another Moon Poem
I waited all winter for the windows to arrive,
xxxxxxfor the trees to leaf,
xxxxxxxxxxxxfor my father to die,
and now it’s May and they’re in
xxxxxxxand they have
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxand he has.
I take Lulu upstairs to show
xxxxxxxxher the full moon, bolder
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthan we’ve ever seen, framed
by the new picture window,
xxxxxxtangled in the locust tree.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxEven when it ducks behind a cloud,
the light’s a wonder, but Lulu
xxxxxxxleans her head into my shoulder,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxand says, I’m too tired for the moon.
OK, I think, but someday
xxxxxxyou’ll see. The moon is your
xxxxxxxxxxxxlong-lost birth mother,
who gave you up
xxxxxxxfor your own good.
xxxxxxxxxxBut who’s been watching all along.
She’s here for me tonight.
xxxxxxIt’s her solitary roving I crave, linked
xxxxxxxxxxxx to the sea, the stars
the whole messy
xxxxxxxxxxxfrom a cool, perfect distance.
Eileen Favorite’s first novel The Heroines (Scribner, 2008) was named a Best Debut by The Rocky Mountain News. She’s twice received Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowships. Her work has appeared in Triquarterly, Folio, The Toast, The Rumpus, Chicago Reader, Poetry East, Diagram, and others. She’s been nominated for Pushcart Prize for fiction and nonfiction. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.