Recurring Dreams of Family Dis-Union

Shanley Smith, Hope College


Sometimes I wake up clutching a pen
with ink spilt over my over worn pajamas.
I dip my fingers in these black pools, copy

your signature on the ceiling. Carrying
the strike of the i  into the crossed t, I wonder
if that’s how it looked on divorce papers.

I’m sick of attempting sketches of you
only to find I didn’t draw the funny bent
of your nose right. I’ve never been an artist

and these days I don’t feel like your daughter.
I’m sick of painting ceiling tiles. My neck is cramping
from looking up and my shoulder is turning

into a weight that bends my back into a mirrored angle
of the bone perched above your lip, which Uncle Eddy broke
when he found out you liked blondes instead of his sister.

I’m writing you letters I’ll regret beginning,
knowing sleep won’t come once fingertips have awoken
and I’m trying to slip back into nightmares

where you miss my fourth birthday party over
and over again and leave me crying as a clown
tries to compliment my grass stained sneakers.

Shanley Smith is currently a sophomore at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. There she serves as the prose editor of their literary magazine, Opus. She seeks to get her B.A. in Creative Writing and hopes someday to own a large Irish Wolfhound and live on either side of the American coastline.