The Laughing Barrel Must Have Been Cobalt Blue

Under the shadow of a headline
looking too much like our children,
we tucked and folded and gathered
ourselves and each other into the
skirt of my grandmother’s dining room
tablecloth, all of us lamenting and
listing the labors and losses, the
table spilling over with stories of
the times the police were called
or not called but came, the last
jobs or second interviews, the neighbor
or grocery store clerk, the child
at school and/or their mother and/or
their father and/or the teacher and

the table, listening, dipped in the
center near to snapping under the
burden until my grandmother
emerged from the kitchen, apron
speckled “but here is the thing,
the real thing,” her pointed finger
stern and scolding us into silence,

“would any of you ever want to be
anything other than what you are?”

and we sat
stunned, staring at ourselves
until we began to laugh

and we laughed
we laughed into each other’s shoulders,
we laughed into howling, howled
into howling until the moon herself
walked into the room
staggering, crook’d finger in the air,
laughed her round face into our laughter,
howling a perfect mirror
our moon eyes spilling throaty and harmonious
looking and laughing and loving our rich and
delicious lives too perfect, too precious,
and we ate to music we ate without muting
our tears rolling into our open mouths.

c. 2019 Suzi Q. Smith

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