Tale

by Judy Kaber

My brother bragged
that he could hold Orion
in the palm of his hand,

 

so I stared as he stretched
his arm to the night sky,
fingers wide. At five,

 

I believed everything.
That a giant rabbit left eggs
and footprints on the neighbor’s

 

lawn, that girls could fall down
rabbit holes, swallow pills,
change size against their will.

 

So who was to say a boy
couldn’t scoop a group of stars
from the black sky and hang them,

 

a glittering rosary, from the rear
view mirror of our 1954 Chevy,
a car my dad loved, drove us

 

to wash with squeaky sponges
until it glistened, a dark scorpion
under the slanted light of the street

 

lamp at the foot of our drive.
My dad loved that car. Almost
as much as he’d loved my mother,

 

when they rode the subway
before the war, before Long Island,
before they were married

 

or we were born, and she drank
boilermakers, her first drink,
and in a green tiled washroom

 

vomited while he waited
outside the toilet door.
In the morning he bought

 

her oranges, dug the peels
loose with his nails, handed
her naked slices on his palm.