VOLLEYBALL REFUGE
Carl Boon

I was nine the afternoon 
my mother shrieked 
for the last time.

 

A wine glass cracked,
a mumble of something
in the foyer, and he was gone.

 

I surrounded myself 
with animals and dolls—Pax
the Poodle to my left,

 

Pocahontas to my right.
My hands made fists
only God could see,

 

and then I stretched them,
held my volleyball
and bounced it twice

 

off the wall—one bounce 
for each of them—
and brushed my hair.

 

Only later were there lines,
nets, and accoutrements.
I grew taller than the other girls

 

and leaned when they spoke
of real dogs, sea holidays,
and New Year’s Eves.

 

I smiled to their smiles
but grew dim inside,
reckoning the past

 

and what I might have done.
Father came summers
and we picked cherries,

 

laughing. I was as tall
as him at twelve, and he sang
foreign songs to me

and made me dig spikes,
spike serve, and move my feet.
If I loved him more

 

it was because we shared
noses, gaps among our teeth,
the need to be alone.

 

Mother seethed from the porch,
but never disappeared.
I guess I loved her, too…

 

but differently—as one loves
a blanket or bread, black
coffee in the afternoon.

Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Burnt Pine, Two Peach, Lunch Ticket, and Poetry Quarterly. He is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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