Excerpt from Children’s Island, fiction
It was early July when the babysitter arrived, tan-legged and honey-haired, though Pinny would not remember this.
What was remembered: There were eggs fried on the stove by the babysitter some mornings, while their parents were away, or if the cook was elsewhere, which was often in summer. There were daily trips to the shore, for hours and hours, behind the enormous white house, whenever it didn’t rain. The sitter, Sylvia, didn’t look very much like Mother because no one could ever have as many sundresses, or smell as lovely, or be as tanned, as Mother. But then Sylvia the sitter didn’t look completely unlike Mother either (of long-limb, something familiar about the fair hair, and a seriousness of voice, something like a long-lost cousin).
There was applesauce made in the oven, and the baking of devil food cakes, though those often fell apart before even making it to any plates. Sylvia the sitter was not a good cook. But this made the kids laugh, more than anything. And so Pinny, Freddy, and Baby Joey trusted this one a little more than they had the others.
On the very first night of the sitter’s arrival, it was Pinny of middle-child-restlessness who had confided a secret to Sylvia the sitter: Before falling asleep Pinny liked having a pillow to hug at bedtime, a soft little one between her arms and ribs. This sitter’s voice was also lower and slower than the others who stayed for summers, too. Though Pinny did once overhear the babysitter on the phone down the hall with a friend, saying all children longed for was someone who would tell them stories, and that even now she was grown, she understood this: All the sitter really wanted was to have stories told to her, too, and to tell some back. How children wanted for this without a grownup-person needing a drink, or a cigarette. Not to tell them stories just as some kind of conduit of false calm, not as sedative just because someone was making a scene or throwing a fit. But instead to tell each other stories because you wanted to be heard, and to hear.
That was also the summer Baby Joey had learned who people were and who people were not, too. The baby cried for Daddy a lot while Sylvia tried to calm her. But Daddy was not around, of course. Pinny knew this, but the cow-eyed new baby hadn’t figured it out yet. And Freddy was always jabbering to the Sylvia about how his socks had to match his clothes, and then begging for extra kisses and hugs from her at bedtime.
Pinny noticed whenever Mother was home, she held and cooed Baby Joey. When Daddy was around he seemed to just want to talk to Freddy about if he was sweet on any girls at school, or baseball. And meanwhile Pinny started imagining herself a neglected princess in a tower somewhere, never visited by either ruling parent. They seemed two strangers, more and more, royalty though uninterested in sharing any such kingdoms with her. Pinny stopped speaking to them as much. Except in tantrums….
Excerpt from The Pregnancy Poems 2, poetry
Angela Veronica Wong
I am losing
my jewelry daily, left
and right earrings
They are glass
I practice French braiding
in anticipation of a daughter.
Confession # 4
off the wall