William Ogden Haynes
His mother was always cleaning, removing his creativity
like so much dirt. Her rag erased the alphabet he
finger-scribbled on the dusty dining room table top.
The boat he made of twigs was pushed off the front porch
by the corn broom into the bushes. He made a fort from
a sheet draped over a card table, played in it one day
and it was gone the next. She didn’t like the refrigerator
door littered with art work, so his sketches and paintings
had to be stored in a plastic tub under the bed. She made
him wipe down the piano after he practiced to remove
any fingerprints, concerned more about the instrument
than the music he played. When he died, she cleaned
his room from top to bottom, got rid of all the toys,
even the plastic tub of art. And years later, she
frequently reflected on his brief life. He had been
just like one of the stick men he often drew on his
exhaled breath covering a cold window pane.
A drawing she had always quickly wiped away.