"Mardi Gras Poem"

by Kelly Jones

I was late to work today because it was hard
to find an office-appropriate outfit that sparkled.

This is the first Mardi Gras I’ve missed in six years.

It is more difficult than I expected – the knowledge that
another world exists somewhere without me.

On my long lunch break I bought the ugliest King Cake
I’d ever seen for fifteen dollars.
I will share it with students tonight
at the literacy center
as we struggle through
another few pages of The House on Mango Street.

My students stumble on the figurative language,
they do not see how fear of white mice can equal
fear of men, or more specifically,
fear of one’s father. I get it perhaps too well.

A few weeks ago I dreamed that my father was trying to kill me.
The apartment I share with my dog and husband
had blended into the house I grew up in
and in my dream I ran up stairs
that don’t exist anymore and slammed my apartment door
as my father pulled a trigger a few times.
I fell in the hallway, and then woke up.

Today before returning to work
I read a few poems while sitting in my car,
listening to college radio play songs by James Booker.
The star-eyed piano king plays and sings
about the sunny side of the street
My wipers keep time and I read about an actress
who died in her car of gas inhalation – the ignition
still running – I think about today’s indulgences,
and how they mean that tomorrow
we have to give something up.

Kelly Jones currently lives, writes, and works towards becoming a librarian in Greensboro, NC. In their spare time they embrace all things glittery, stress-bake, and attempt to keep the houseplants alive.

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