September 14, 2012 by The Citron Review
by Jen Ferguson
In your third home there is burnt jiffy pop. Metal shelves sagging under the weight of mouse droppings. And when you earn a good belting on value of your childish indiscretions, when you flood the basement after pressing a sewing needle over and over into the waterbed, take that home for granted.
Prairie dogs, their deaths lingering in the field behind your seventh home. Cover reminders with reminders, notes you post to a reformed version of you: forgetmenot, forget and not and not. A neighbour boy has a thing for toes. You learn nibbling produces warmth. Then he’s posted, then the warmth is gone. By knowing the grass, trimmed weekly in the summer, tastes like cigarette ashes, you can hold onto yourself.
You learn to tuck that home-place, pressed to an errand playing card you found once, in your pocket for when you’re down and blue-gilled.
The sleeping bag you buy with your uncle in 1993—on the move from your third to fourth home—is blue on the outside and green on the inside. He tells you it is called forest green, but the green of the weeping willow in your yard is brighter until the city employees take it apart from the top down. In winter, the green of the tree is still brighter where you frame it, label it “the first government cut” in your graveyard for cities where you have lived.
That graveyard is the same room where you sleep for seventeen years, always that room, always that house—no. No. Those cookie cutter houses can, if you close your eyes, transcend geography.
Your fifth home backs onto a field that carries you to the Cannex where you buy penny candies and browse the rows of washing machines for sale to kill the time. And once your mother sends you to fetch her cigarettes, the cashier meets you outside the store and hands you a pack of Players Light and you run through the field, the grass thigh high and ticklish and you never realize how your mother used you.
In your only home off the base, the windows must be covered with plastic wrap in the winter to maintain a proper seal. But how it howls as the wind slips in and makes war against the plastic wrap. And there you think some kids don’t have homes at all; you have had so many.
Jen Ferguson has been writing since she learned not to eat the crayons. She is a Canadian studying for her PhD in the USA and enjoys watching the corn grow when she’s not writing, renovating her log house, or playing with her horde of foster dogs