Family Secrets

Family Secrets


The trees had stopped fruiting years ago,

the orchard reduced, home by home.


My tree was the third one in back, husked

to this patch of land that shouldered


the island’s reach into the lake below.

I’d found it at age seven. A running start


to grab the lowest branch with both hands,

swing, then hoist myself up. An easy scramble

to the highest niche. I’d unwrap a sandwich,

pull out my notebook. From there, I could watch


the sailboats kite across the lake, spy

on the neighbors as they barbecued, disappear


into the leaves. Leave my sisters to wonder

if I’d run away with the ice cream man.



I can’t tell you

how the lies have piled up

like driftwood after a winter storm,


how I clamber over each log, steady

myself with an outstretched arm

before slipping onto the beach,


how the clear water magnifies

bleached clamshells splayed and split,


how they look like half moons, reflected over

and over until the seabed’s a horizon on Jupiter,


how I long to fill my pockets with shells,

as when we were children, to sell on

our drive’s end for pennies,


how our pockets emptied sand, spilled

across the bathroom floor, wet with toe prints.



We buried it deep this time. Deeper

than the babysitter’s bra, our brother’s

Matchbox cars, the ugly photo of me

in glasses and flood pants taken at Long Beach.


We boxed it up last night, the whole

messy story written in disappearing ink

on papyrus, folded into quarters, shoved

into an envelope, stamped with red sealing wax.


We dug all the way to China, with our bare hands.

Dirt under our nails, the tell tale.

Finding My Way Home Chapbook Now on Sale

Finding My Way Home Chapbook Now on Sale