| words that get in your teeth

Waves – Carly Heider

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Memories of my childhood come back in waves.
I drink cream soda and find myself floating
in my Granny’s basement,
it’s family night and the adults without life jackets laugh at their table.
The kids in the other room inhale musty air and play games with broken boards and missing pieces.
Everyone seemed so happy then,
in the calm tides.

A rogue wave buckles me at my knees.
I am the smallest kid on the trampoline
on my back I admire the sky,
half hoping to bounce high enough to touch a cloud;
half hoping to catapult off the ledge
to make friends with the ground.
Either way I could drown
out the screaming
of the monster inside the house.

High tide comes and I am wading
in a littered sea of my father’s empty alcohol bottles,
I am choking
on the secondhand cigarette smoke from my mother.
I am waist deep in water I didn’t ask to be in and no adults
ever taught me to swim.

I am splashing
in the kiddie pool,
safe in my mother’s embrace.
The water droplets tickle my face and I am
a moment of grace.
My childhood comes back to me
in waves.

Bio – Carly Heider is a budding poet from small-town Virginia with roots in Pittsburgh, PA. Her poetry commonly includes themes of trauma, healing, and hope, and she is passionate about advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as equal human rights. When she isn’t writing, Carly works in the education field, is a busy dog-mom, and values spending time with her friends and family. You can follow her on Instagram at @beautyandherbrain

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