by poems & doodles

during geography
in the sixth grade
i ask my teacher why
africa and south america
are shaped
like pieces from the same puzzle.

she hesitates
and says they used to be one big continent.
in fact, all the land on earth
was once pieced together.
it stayed that way for millions of years
until it broke apart slowly,
deep underwater
where no one could see or fix.

and the pieces
just drifted apart? i ask

she says yes.

later that day
my teacher pulls me aside
and asks how things are
at home.

i say
even though mom
pulled me out of
bed again last night
and rehashed
the history of
her and dad
and how she never should’ve
X, Y, and Z.

and i don’t mention
that the night before
mom took
us on a car ride where we waited
for hours
outside the very green house
of a very young mistress
i never actually saw.

i don’t mention it
because even though
we are a family
bound by pride
and deceit
and secrets

we are still a family.

and my teacher
but well intentioned
puts a hand on my shoulder
and says it isn’t my fault
says this type of thing happens
and i
                 a sixth grade daughter
can’t stop it.

and i feel the familiar
saltwater burn
creep up my nose
threatening to push through
the backs of my eyes
thank god
i remember to keep my breathing steady so i don’t
pull in those loud, uncontrollable
sobs like i did last night
the ones that make me dizzy
in my attempts to hide them;
the ones that make me weak
in my attempts to ignore them.

so i nod and head back to my desk
my face hot and palms clammy.
and i spend the rest of my day
the rest of many of my days
thinking about
what happened to