You never know exactly what children are taking away from listening to adult conversations. I remember not wanting to go to bed as a young child in cause I was going to miss something exciting. In this piece we don’t hear the mother’s answer to the solution that is offered.


Eavesdropping                                                                      Michelle Boisseau


It was Mrs. Garvin, the doctor’s wife,

who told my mother, Well, if you’re that broke,

put the kids up for adoption.

Out under the porch light that summer,

we slapped at mosquitoes and invented

our brave escape-luminous sheets

knotted out the window

were the lines of a highway down the house.

We would know the way,

like ingenious animals, to go

quietly toward the river,

but we could imagine no further

than the shacks on stilts

shivering the water,

the Kentucky hills on the other side.

Denise, the youngest, took to sleepwalking,

wading room to room for the place

one of us-curled up in a bed’s corner-

might have left her. I’d wake

to her face pressed against my back,

her hands reining the edges of my nightgown.

I didn’t tuck her into my shoulder

but loosened her fingers and led her

back to her own bed, her fear

already seeping into me like water

or like the light spilling

from the milk truck

as it backfired down the street.


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