At Eleven

Carole King sang, “I Feel the Earth Move Under
My Feet.” Three Dog Night proclaimed “Joy to the World.”
The house shook and shook. I thought I’d dreamed it.
My father stopped coming home. Without him,
afternoons slid into evenings, unmarked. No longer
did everything in the house shift to make room for him.
The rectangle next to the door where he used to put
his briefcase. My mother’s cheek, unkissed.
I played the radio as long and as loud as I wanted.
My best friend stopped inviting me over to watch
Dark Shadows and eat frosted snack cakes,
both forbidden in my house. Even though her own
father had departed long ago. A place opened,
a spot beside my mother that I stepped into.
As the eldest child and only daughter,
I became a partner, a sister-wife, a listener. I felt
too old for sixth grade. The kids on our block
shied away from me, like frightened horses.
Every day, I hummed and spun. Janis wailed
about “nothin’ left to lose.” I didn’t know she’d
died before the song made it to my radio. I didn’t
know those words were some of the oldest ever sung.



Imagine total
collapse. Bombs
of mud plus
seed. Egged on,
I egg the yard.
Rear back & throw
like a girl.


Unmade a green
of blood & moss.
I am not
the gardener.


I felt my
resistance wane.
Hard sunlight
at the window.
Hierarchies of
rising seas.


Bone in
cling to roots
like luggage.


is easy. Hurt
this space
into wildness.
Rake, rake, rake. Edge away, slowly.


is clean. Fire heals,
but. Familiarity
breeds. Seeds
don’t cry. Blur
into smother,
talk dirty.

Erica Goss is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2017 Lyrebird Award from Glass Lyre Press. Her flash essay, “Just a Big Cat,” was one of Creative Nonfiction’s top-read stories for 2021. Recent and upcoming publications include The Georgia Review, Oregon Humanities, Creative Nonfiction, North Dakota Quarterly, Spillway, A-Minor, Redactions, Consequence, The Sunlight Press, The Pedestal, San Pedro River Review, and Critical Read. Erica served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, California, from 2013-2016. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she teaches, writes and edits the newsletter Sticks & Stones.