At Little George’s House, the Christmas Lights Stayed Up All Year by Christina Stoddard

If I hadn’t been grounded, I would have wandered
with Rita and LeShawndra down Sprague Avenue.
After getting kicked out of Pinch’s Deli
for trying to buy cigarettes, we would’ve pooled
our nickels for a four-pack of Twinkies
from the Hostess outlet and cased
Jason Lee Middle School for something to do.
I would have lost to Rita again
in the game to pitch rocks against the gym’s
highest window. If I had better aim, I wouldn’t
have hit Ms. Wilson’s windshield and gotten grounded,
and then we all would have been poking around
the edge of the fenced-off baseball field
when Little George walked by with his yellow mutt.
If Rita hadn’t wanted to be a veterinarian,
she wouldn’t have been so eager to see George’s new
pet rabbit. LeShawndra might not have gone along
but her grandmother’s house smelled of mothballs
and wounds. Had I not been confined
to my yard, I would have followed them down the steps
into George’s dim-lit basement. We had been there
before. I would have stroked the trembling baby rabbit’s
spine. I would have been with them when George
left to get a carrot, locked the door,
poured gasoline, and set the match.


Christina Stoddard’s poems have appeared in various journals including DIAGRAM, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Slipstream. Originally from Washington State, Christina currently lives in Nashville, TN where she is the Managing Editor of a scholarly journal in economics. She is also a Contributing Editor at Cave Wall.