The East Side

I push my bed to the window wall, pillow
on the sill, head pressed to the screen to catch
the delicate breeze, for only the stars
are cool in their heavens.

Next day I steal a moment, poke my head
in the fridge until I’m chased outdoors—
kids don’t feel the heat, they say— visit a friend
who lets me in his empty house on the sly,
parents gone to work, dark shades drawn, mysteriously
cool—we should keep our curtains closed, I think.

A car goes by, windows rolled up tight—rich folks, we say—
tonight I sleep downstairs on the living room floor, flip
my pillow once again to the cooler side.

Our eyes are glued to his fingers as Mr. Streber counts
the change at the neighborhood grocery store,
for we can spend the pennies that drop into the well
of our upturned palms—candy drops on long paper strips,
sticks of gum, two per pack, or a licorice mustache,
ostentatious evidence of sudden wealth.

I’ve saved my allowance a long time and we parade
to the shopping center close to home, go to
Rennebohm’s, stocked with earthly delights—so hard
to choose, to surrender our coins. On the way home

I slide my purchase from the brown paper bag, maybe
even ruin the seal and feel the flimsy toy in hand,
slide it back inside and go back, hoping the counter lady
will let me return it.

Eileen Mattmann

Eileen Mattmann

Eileen Mattmann’s poetry was nominated for Best of the Net, 2018 and has appeared in Riddled With Arrows, Millwork, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, and others. For her, poetry is a scrapbook where she can record thoughts and observations that are often transformed into something beyond what she originally thought.