and pissed on the painter’s finished 

canvas, the housewarming gift he gave us

two or three places ago.  We have crated

and uncrated this still life each time

we decided to uproot and start again.

There was the house with the catalpa

tree, leaves big as my splayed hands together

its seed pods that dangled, brown and long

like cigars.  There was a yellow

house on a hill with crumbling cement

steps—there you read from long texts

and I taught myself to knit.

When did the painter fall from our

favor, I ask you. Was it when he slammed 

his vodka then called us all children?

Or when he lost a game of racquetball,

a smear of sweat on his cheek, and insisted

you were cheating.  Even after that, I think

you sat with him, fishing, silent for hours.

But I could be wrong.  My memory isn’t

always to be trusted. I think it was when,

second hand, I heard that he said he was glad

his estranged wife had died from cervical 

cancer, that she had gotten 

what she deserved for leaving him.

Things can be idyllic and then ugly.

A basket of pears in ochre, then piss the same color.

Barbara Costas-Biggs lives in Southerm Ohio.  She works as a librarian and (occasionally) as an adjunct faculty member at Shawnee State University teaching English Composition.  Her work is forthcoming or has appeared recently in Jarfly, Glass, MoriaDistrict LitLiterary Mama, and others. She also has also been a member the juried poetry series Women of Appalachia: Women Speak.