Their Smiles Are Starting to Change

A Poem by April Salzano

My son is the biggest baby in the room.
He doesn’t know there is an age limit
on jumping and squealing in the mall playland
with the spongey floor, that straight-arming
a kid who will not leave him alone
is not the appropriate solution. It may
make perfect sense, but it will just
piss his 20-year-old mother off enough
to threaten me with her raccoon eyes.
It is not cute or gentle. Her son is planted
into the carpet.

In the women’s restroom,
I feel an iris burning
its way into my back, my life
opening for scrutiny. He is too big to be in here,
as if I am carrying an 8-year-old fetus
into the stall. He hides from the automatic
hand dryer and I get it, the smile of sympathy
that really isn’t. It is more of a unfinished question—
is there something…? Is he…? He counts
the floor tiles, frames the logo on the soap dispenser
with his hands, one eye closed, then covers his ears.
Then, yes…The women are still staring and asking,
but the hand dryer is so loud, I have to look away.

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