Every spring the teachers take down snowflakes
and tape clusters of hand-linked
paper dolls to classroom windows. They call them
families, the crayon-colored bodies,
same red smiles against the skin of glass.
Every afternoon a yellow bus
fills with children. The driver circles orchard roads,
stops outside a brick house
where a girl in a green dress skips down her driveway.
It’s burn day
and her mother is out back. She takes the last
vodka bottles from the garbage heap
then strikes a match to it. And the smoke from the burn
MARCENE GANDOLFO’s first poetry collection, Angles of Departure, (Cherry Grove Collections, 2014) was a finalist for the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize and the Patricia Bibby First Book Award, and a semi-finalist for the Washington Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in numerous journals, including Poet Lore, The Café Review, DMQ Review, Bayou, and Harpur Palate. She has taught writing and literature at Sacramento City College and other northern California colleges. She lives in Elk Grove, California, with her husband, daughter and three cats.