Anna B. Sutton

A Family of Mice

A mouse fears the scent of cherry blossoms

because a chain link fence of DNA tells her

to be afraid. What she doesn’t know, the sharp

shock her mother received after each whiff;

her grandmother, too. We creatures can pass

our fears along, it seems, chemical shift

sin our strands. My father hid in the woods

before school, the only place safe from Khrushchev

and his pounding heel. Even then, at five, he knew

a desk couldn’t save him. A daily blessing, his parents

searched the creek bed for the crying boy—

sick mixing with dirt beside his freckled body.

Meanwhile my mother smoked away her sides, pinched

pillows of flesh under her arms and along her waist

until she could slip through a room like a specter.

She measured her sentences with her sustenance

and watched her own mother’s eyes narrow and glance.

When my father proposed along the creek, she grasped

the ring like a life raft. No raft can last forever. Now,

the pink pads of my feet carry me quiet from cupboard

to cupboard, kitchen to bedroom—at night, alone at last

in this house. I’ve sent my lover off to see his family.

I nibble an old pizza crust, flip the channels of our

muted set and let its light wash over me like fallout.

Anna B. Sutton lives in Winston-Salem, NC. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Third CoastCopper NickelDIAGRAMTupelo QuarterlyBrevityThe Collagist, and other journals. In 2013, she received her MFA from University of North Carolina Wilmington and a James Merrill fellowship from Vermont Studio Center. She is co-founder of The Porch Writers Collective, poetry editor at Dialogist, a nonfiction reader at Gigantic Sequins, and on staff at John F. Blair, Publisher.