As a child, I’d hide under the kitchen table
and announce: I’m going away now.
My father always said, don’t forget to write,
but my mother pretended to cry until I begged
her to stop, my own eyes wet with tears.
I want to drive a car as far as it will go,
hear the final, fatal pop as a rod impales the engine block,
leave the door wide open, my purse and money
on the seat. I want to hide in the bushes
until help comes, watch strangers peer
at my license, thumb pictures of my family. I hear them
read the back of a photo: Jamie, age 8, in smudged ballpoint.
They twirl my lipstick, finger my pill bottles,
touch scraps of paper, then fan out, looking for me,
absorbed, diligent, the way a baker makes bread,
with a certain purpose, a drive to finish the task. I wonder
when I should step from the shadows, twigs in my hair,
a long scratch down one cheek. I wonder
when the joyous reunion will start.

Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Wild Place (Finishing Line Press 2012) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press 2014). Erica teaches poetry workshops and works as a Development Director for California Poets in the Schools. Her poems, reviews and articles appear widely. Please visit her at: