Skip to main content

A Death in the Family

by Sterling Larsen 

I fell from the swings once, 

    real high up. 

I pumped 

    and pumped 

’til my big toe

blotted out the sun. 

The sky flipped upside down and 

I slipped. 

She loved him 

      like sick-sweet candy and fast cars, 

but threw up on her wedding day, 

      holding back peroxide hair 

and the veil 

rented just for a day. 


He doesn’t live here anymore.

Mom says they fell out of love, 

    not like on swings though 

    or chairs when you laugh hard,

but like dingy nickels 

flicked on a smooth table 

that buzz and blur and whir 

’til they are dizzy or sick

and fall down 



       wob, wob, wob 


I go in there sometimes 

    where the smell of pine lingers 

    where he used to hang his ties 

in rows, like crayons 

    neat, by color 

before Mom dumped them 

    with shouts and a suitcase 

onto the lawn. 

He comes back sometimes, 

    stuffed in an envelope 

    with a wrinkled five 

    and a tainted “happy birthday,” 

but cards don’t give underdogs.