Shelf Life

By Deborah Falco, student, Long Island Center – Hauppauge Unit

April 4, 2011

The perfect little girl sits atop the wooden shelf
Mockingly painted robin's egg blue
Adorned with pleated edging –
Held in place by bright red thumb tacks
Like shiny metal hearts.

The shelf is in the smallest room
At the back of the railroad flat
A room with peeling paper and
A steam riser colored silver,
Like a freshly minted coin.

The shelf is in the room
That faces the concrete yard –
No tree growing in this Brooklyn
Just some thorny climbing roses and wilting tomato plants
Fighting with each other for slices of sun.

Up there on that shelf she stands
Rock solid in her stance –
Bolstered by a panda, assisted by
The lion to help keep her at bay
From the brutality below.

Her molded ears unhearing the
Whipping, whirring leather
That strikes down and down again.
And painted eyes unseeing
The rising crimson welts.

The adoring child beneath her
Lying rumpled on the bed
Sobbing tears of misery
Wishing one day she could join her
In the safety on the shelf.

Deborah Falco

Deborah Falco

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