dorm-size fridge wedged into the
backseat of her silver Honda like popcorn
stuck between two teeth,
a giant, black leather trunk secured to
the car’s roof by elastic bungee cords
straining at the seams.
You flash her your best fake smile
as she eases into the driver’s seat,
and just for a moment you see
your college bound daughter
as the three-year-old
little girl in pigtails and a Cinderella dress gripping
the steering wheel with tiny fingers
Look at me Mommy, I’m driving a car.
You wave until her vehicle fades away,
then trudge into the house,
and all your built up tears
come pouring out like a hurricane.
The parenting books said
not to cry in front of her.
You wander into her bedroom
with an empty heart, and
dust off her Knick-knacks
as you wonder where the years went,
feeling her ghost in every
room of the house.
Your job as a full-time parent is over,
stolen away much too soon.
A chill engulfs you as
you feel the memories of eighteen years,
as thick as fog at the break of dawn,
surrounding you, bathing you, drowning you,
daring you to take your first wobbly
steps into your new diminished role.