My Uncle Stays Past Dinner


                               Martha Clarkson



I was never afraid of the witch, that spindly

Margaret Hamilton cackling in black rags

riding a broomstick looking for Dorothy.

It was the flying monkeys

that made me burrow under afghans

those small apes in brocade jackets and usher hats

looking over her shoulder into that crystal ball.


My friend was so scared of the witch she begged

my uncle to walk her across the street

home safely to pink sheets. I thought her weak.


When he returned, he shut the TV off before it was over.

Told me he was a wizard better than Oz,

could grant my any wish.


My mother watered the garden in the dark

drinking gin from a Sprite can. My father

was in Prineville selling hairspray.


My uncle shut the den door and granted his own wish.


That night the monkeys flew in my bedroom window.

They perched on my footboard, a small hush of wings.

The witch would like to see you, they said in unison.

I wasn’t like Dorothy. I wanted to go.