The sound of

my childhood
was my siblings’ squeals,
frantic feet pounding up
the basement stairs after I turned off
the light. Cacophony of fright, or even
anger, for enveloping them in the womb of the
dark, domain of the dreaded “heatermonster.”
A legendary figure,
never identified by sight,
but known—admittedly imprecisely,
due to the squealing—by his dull roar.
In fact, I’d say, even safe on the first floor,
If you ask me, the AC here
isn’t nearly loud enough.
Where’s the incessant hum?
Nothing swallows the sound
when I startle myself with the
clank of the pots in the cupboard,
despite my careful fingers.
No one’s dueling with soundtracks
in the kitchen, writing the next hit
country-techno-musical mashup.
If I don’t bury my face in a pillow,
someone might actually be able
to hear me crying.
There are gaping          holes
    between           my mom         and I
when          I call her       on the phone.
     If we were      honest, and we        never are,
I’d say         they’ve always       been there.
        It’s just harder          to hide the fissures
with no         one else to lay       claim
                      to her attention.
But she is smart        enough to know
     there are      missing hours       in my stories,
gulfs that went                unnoticed
             all the years spent suffocating
                                                   under her roof.
So when I say I miss them
and my voice sounds honest,
it surprises me, even though
I know I do.
I crave the noise.
It’s just—
even with the shrieking,
I’m running out of tales
to fill the gaps
and too afraid to find out
what would happen if they
finally heard               me.