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"TAOS DAWN"
SUSAN KEISER


Changing the Locks

April Salzano

I called the locksmith the day after the night
I moved my purse and our sons into bed with me.
The night before your first of many trips
to drug rehab. Your voice clutched my throat
through the phone. I owe some people some money,
and if I don’t get it to them tonight, I might be in trouble.
That you were lying did not occur to me
for a year. A year of barely-made mortgage payments,
single parenting, diagnoses, autism for one son,
PTSD for the other. A year of clawing my way through,
jacked up on caffeine and loss. In that night
I only knew to lock the doors, curl my body
around our children and keep checking
the windows, parting the blinds in paranoia.

I did not fund your symbolic last high before the pain
of detox. I called Bill’s Smithing instead.
Bill the locksmith came straightaway with his name
sewn in an oval on his shirt. Bill.
Bill the locksmith changed my locks and tried to save me
in the kitchen. He leaned against the counter,
in the same place you used to lean to eat your dinner
right out of the skillet, the same place onto which you lifted me
and stood between my open legs. Bill the locksmith
held my hand when I finished writing the check
and said, “God bless you.” Bill meant those words.
Bill had been there. Bill held me
like a father holds someone else’s daughter.
“The Good Lord will guide and protect you,”
Bill said. Bill said the same words two months later
when he came to change the locks, and didn’t judge
when I said I had a relapse
and gave you the keys.
“God bless you,” Bill said.
That was the last time I laid eyes on Bill the locksmith.
I didn’t need new locks to keep you out. You did
that all by yourself.

1 comment:

  1. So powerful a portrait of what women go through.

    ReplyDelete