Lessons from a Normal Childhood

I may have dreamed the preschool on a hill
above the hospital, how the staff
who did not at the time seem bored but seemed

to cherish us released us to the yard to watch
the medevac touch down—a treat,
the shocking noise, because we knew no

injury, and it was too far distant to make out
small figures on the gurneys. And because
my mother worked there, at the hospital,

I told myself she must be among the white coats
rushing to meet the blades, and cheered her
because I believed she could hear me and knew,

somehow, she needed it. Years later,
over dinner, with her back turned to the television,
she told me pointed stories about teenage mothers,

how small their babies were, the fathers
had no teeth left—although the chance
I’d end up doing meth was slim, or even that I’d learn

how to find it, since you can only ever tell
after the fact, after the shit goes up in flames,
after the whole mess blows—

then you can see beside some county road
the charred halves of a mobile home, the burn so new
the kudzu has not yet begun to cover it.

Laura Davenport is the author of the chapbook Little Hates (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming). Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2009, Crab Orchard Review, Meridian, and New South, and her non-fiction essay “On Literary Relationships” was featured in the Passages North Writers on Writing blog.