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What Remains
by Mary Jo Balistreri

Maybe it's a full moon rising, or tiny lights of fireflies flitting over the grass Dad
is hosing. It could have been air filled with baked heat or earth and water, and grills.
A night smell that is humidity-soaked lumber. The smell of new.

It's the early 50s, South Dakota hot. Lamps switch on in a row of track houses. Screen
doors open in hope of cooler air. Our house releases the sound of a baby crying, clacking
dishes, and the voice of Paul Harvey as Mother puts our brother to bed. My sister and I
are still playing outside. We look at each other and laugh—no one cares that it's getting

Our father sings Irene, Goodnight Irene over and over. He's in a playful mood, squirts us
with the hose when we neigh and shake our manes. We rear up when wet and gallop in
the street. We are the black stallions in the Farley books our mother reads to us each

Sixty years later, Irene, Goodnight Irene/Irene Goodnight serenades me from the car
radio. A July moon rises and spotlights our new home, our father still carefree and happy
whistling while he waters the lawn, Mother content inside with the new baby, and my
sister and I in a child's version of heaven, the echo of hoofs yet sprinting down that dusty

into sunset…
the speed of spent years

Published by failed haiku, 2017

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