O That Summer
my sister and I
both wound up back in Coos Bay,
basket cases, lonely as hell.
She was recovering from drugs and alcohol,
I was newly divorced, a Sunday School teacher
with no job skills whatsoever
and two little boys to feed,
praying for a maid job at Best Western.
Lord how we prayed
walking from one end
of Sunset Beach to the other, barefoot,
freezing in tank tops and cutoffs,
hair and makeup perfect,
fingernails painted with three coats
of Wet ’n Wild, hoping
some good looking single doctor
was walking his dog nearby
should one of us happen
to slice our foot on beach glass.
In her second month of a three-month-long virus,
which, according to half a dozen fellow victims,
does not respond to antibiotics, my sister apologizes
for needing to take her third nap of the day
on my sofa. Homeless and divorced, she’s relieved
to know that a trip to the doctor most likely wouldn’t
do her any good, especially since she has no insurance
coverage of any kind, except on her ’78 Ford Fairmont,
with its brand new master cylinder, which thanks to God
and Les Schwab’s low monthly payment plan,
should be paid for by the end of the year,
at which time she hopes to get a rotation,
two new tires, and a badly needed front end alignment,
all for just under a hundred bucks.
The poet Ginger Andrews lives in Oregon and cleans houses for a living. “O That Summer” is from her collection An Honest Answer and “Divine Mathematics” is from her collection Hurricane Sisters, both published by Story Line Press. The poems are used with permission. The author’s photograph is by Chris Christian.