Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Blue Cup

Thomas D. Reynolds


His mother, distracted
by boiling tea or phone call,
failed to notice his hand sliding
into her purse for the attic key.
The fact that the attic remained locked,
key zipped into an inner compartment,
made it all the more irresistible.

He explored for ten minutes,
pulling out cabinet drawers,
rifling through trunks,
pulling out a chipped blue cup
and holding it to his mouth
to toast with a cup of air
some invisible companion.

A week later he died of diphtheria,
the cup being that of a distant cousin
from forty years before,
who sipped his last gulps
from this favorite mug,
the one memento his family
couldn't give away.

None would know germs
could survive forty years,
or cause another mother and father
to spiral out of control,
to never be the same again,
to distort one side of the family tree,
branches stunted, or shadowed
from sunlight, veering off
into strange unforeseen directions.

Setting down the cup,
the smearing of saliva
around the raised lip
already evaporating in the heat,
John climbed down the ladder,
slipped the key into the compartment,
then ran with his sister into the grass,
the process of dying already begun.

***

Thomas D. Reynolds teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Potpourri, Ariga, Strange Horizons, Combat, American Western Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Ash Canyon Review, and Orphan Leaf Review.

© Thomas D. Reynolds

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012