Though she was no longer welcome at such family events,
Rue followed the aroma of BBQ over the scattered trucks
and dolls to the backyard, beelined to the beer and drank.
The voices around her slowed to warp and derision,
slung streamers graphed the sky; below she was a y-intercept.
So when Aunt Grace walked over with a grilled wing
on a paper plate, Rue saw it for a symbol and refused,
said, “I ate.” When the old woman’s face cinched in upon suspicion,
Rue kicked off her flipflops and waded into the kiddie pool.
She turned to baby May, saying, “I feel like a zesty little pickle.
You ever feel that way?” The kid could barely say a word.
Rue had been throttling through the past few days
and had thought she might alight, might shake the shadow people
here for a minute. But there was her father coming towards her
looking even older than Thomas Jefferson. So it was exit, stage left,
but where the hell was her other sandal?