216 East Boalt

by Jeannie Vanasco December 15, 2008

I used to live in a white-sided saltbox house, the kind children draw in crayon, with the triangle roof on top of the tall, rectangular bottom. Years ago my maternal grandmother, a wide diabetic Lutheran I never met, had some men cut the house in half like a peanut butter sandwich and move each slice across town after her son Eugene was hit by a train.

My life began in this house and there was always a feeling that something was off, someone or something was missing. Maybe it had to do with Eugene, or maybe it had to do with the crookedness, how when the men put the house back together, they never put it together straight.

When I was a girl I drew my house split apart and then the people split apart, half of them walking around searching for their other halves. Half of my grandmother (the only half I drew) reached for the whole of Eugene trapped between the house. Half of my mother reached for herself and the other half, Eugene. Half of me reached for my father, but half of him was opening an empty mailbox while the other half peered down from behind his bedroom window. The other half of me tried to pull our house together.

This drawing still hangs crooked in my house.

About the Author:

Jeannie Vanasco is a reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement. She was recently named a finalist for a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship by The Poetry Foundation. Her poems have been awarded The Academy of American Poets College Prize, among other awards.

About the Artist:

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.