Coat of Arms

Rachel J. Bennett

heraldic signs          a paper bag of lunch
my dad          
stone skipped off the long tail of Alaska
Pensacola intercept
but hometown all along          packing our lunches
every morning

a bird stuck somewhere

my mom          homeless child          
clothed and jumping into
the Holiday Inn pool          she kept a picture
cut from the newspaper of the Challenger
astronauts          all gone          pinned
to the wall

memory’s fanfare and trumpets

an affair          did I know what that was
could I guess who with          these were questions
she really asked 
in my five-year-old brother’s room

that feeling in the pit of my stomach and
I didn’t guess the right person and
then she was gone          off to Holland
and back     

I told myself          both true
and not          I told myself
we were better off without her          no more
dust-mopping          vacuuming          buffing
those wood floors every day

she taught my brother and I to say
I love you in Dutch after the affair ended

it was around the time I was learning 
about heraldry          asked to picture 
my family’s coat of arms

a row of apple trees stood at the back of our yard
yielding little fruit          but apple trees and
behind them railroad ties marking the end
of our yard          the beginning 
of an empty lot          and I’d probably
paint my shield with
that lot          portal to the forest
it was waist-high in daisies 
every summer