Anything At All

I could not run
fast enough
across our front lawn
on Denver Drive
toward my father’s bright
blue eyes
his outstretched arms
St. Augustine grass
thick around my toes
palm trees
swaying through
the salty sky
the joy
that surged through
my tiny body
as he picked
me up
to tell me
he loved me
my three-year-old
curls caressing
his sunburned cheek

Who could
have imagined

the disappointment
shame and sorrow
that would creep
between us

when Daddy stumbled across
our living room hardwoods
Winston in one hand,
Jack Daniels and Coke in the other,
and I was fourteen gliding
through steps for my Saturday recital
my auburn braids flying with me
as he slurred his praise,
his grin sloppy with pride

these unwelcome
visits that came
too often

now the squeak of my soles
on the Comet-scrubbed floors
as I reach across
the rail of his bed
cold like his sallow cheeks
now empty of smile
the damp brush
of my lashes
against his forehead
as I pause
to see a blink
a quiver
anything at all
in those bright
blue eyes
gone now
to gray

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About the Author

Sallie Crotty has published many places, including The Dairy Hollow Echo; The Drabble; eMerge; and Resources to Recover. The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow awarded her a residency in 2018. Sallie holds a B.A. in English from Sewanee: The University of the South, an Ed.M. from Harvard, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte. She is working on a poetry collection, and her memoir Out of the Ashes: A Story of Recovery and Hope was published in 2022.