When I was in the summer before
my fourth grade I found a little itch
-bump on my tummy and my mother
fearing chicken-pox blindness, kept
me in a darkened room. For two weeks
I lived inside night, shades pulled
tight, washcloths covering my eyes
and only my mother to come see me,
except once the girl down the street
brought a card she'd made with a rhyme
about pox rounded up in a box.
My father must have been away.
What I remember most was the story
she read aloud, about the forest and girl
named Lucy, who all the animals
spoke to, all of them living inside
a wardrobe full of fur, with a lamp
post signaling the way in, the way out.
My mother's voice lifting me out
of my box, away from my skin rubbed
with bitter lotion, my hands she kept
away from my body. Beyond the cool
cloths, a grove of trees where children
called to each other in darkness
and were answered.
YOU ARE READING
The Dictators' Guide to Good HousekeepingPoetry
Selected by Margaret Atwood for the 2012 Atty Award. Collection of 10 poems. (The cover photo is a detail from the painting "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" by Dorthea Tanning. Tate Collection, London).