» Poetry

Two Poems with Parents

Sleeping in My Childhood Bedroom as an Adult

Glow in the dark stars tumble

into black, their light hanging


like the feet

of a man tied to death. I trace


the outlines of memories and pull them

to my nose, they smell like

patchouli and my father’s

velvet coat. Gray shapes


dance to the window. Are they

the ghosts of my dead dogs

or the angels I overheard

my mother asking for help? Or maybe just

teenage headlights, sneaking back into their parents’

driveway. The laundry

room moans and shakes


behind a poster

of New York City’s face. The dryer thumps

against my wall. Round

round round. Clothes rise

and fall

like the air lifting up my chest. My mother’s

Elvis T-shirt. My father’s white


briefs. The noise goes

in circles. Up

and down. Taped on the fridge

is a photo dated two

days after my birth. My mother is holding

my head to her chest, my feet swing above


Elvis’s bleached teeth. And I still remember

my father

getting nervous and shouting

and shutting


the door when my brother and I found

him in his white briefs. Rise

and fall. I focus on the dark

and the noise and the clothes

that make the

dark warm. Up


and down.


and fall. Round

round round.


Sitting in a Classroom Where Everyone Is Smarter Than Me (Except Maybe That Guy with the Taco Tattoo)

I want to pull my knees to my chest

and make myself small and see

through like the balled-up sheets

of cling wrap I find in the drawers of my mother’s

kitchen. But I don’t do that

because I wouldn’t be small

or see through to the people

sitting across the table. They would still see

a girl with uncombed hair

wearing a baggy t-shirt she got free from a bank

because she never learned

how to not be ashamed

of her breasts. And they might find it strange

if this girl slipped her feet from

the mud-painted rainboots

that keep her weighted

to the government-bought linoleum,

and then if she pulled

her feet and the hand-knit socks

that held them up to the seat of her chair,

and what if her neck let go

so that her forehead sat balanced between

the tops of her knees.

Yes, that would look strange.

Instead I move my left thigh

over my right and tie my calves

into a knot. I can’t see

my legs beneath the table

but I imagine them as the twisted strings

of green and pink

taffy my father pulled from his suitcase

whenever he was afraid

that he’d been gone

for too long. Throw away

your wrappers, he told me. My mother yelled

when she found them

rolled into worlds

and tucked inside

the corners of kitchen drawers.


Sophie Ezzell

Sophie Ezzell is a Tennessee-born writer. Her essays and poems have most recently appeared in the Burningword Literary Journal and Pidgeonholes and are forthcoming in Still: The Journal and The Dead Mule. Currently, Sophie lives in Huntington, West Virginia, where she is completing her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at Marshall University. Her Twitter handle is @SophieEzzell.