The McKinley Review Magazine

The Roses

By: Teresa Blackmon Posted on: Summer 2019


When people dug bomb shelters

deep in peaceful dirt,

and every airplane that flew the sky

was to me, at six years old,

Mr. Khrushchev ready to blow my body up

higher than my backyard swing,

Panic throbbed.

At ten, I planned to hide in the Rose’s basement,

beg them to take me in

to hide, not child’s play this time,

but to be safe.


When the teenage years burst open

with the distress of an ill-fitting life

and heartbreak ripped like a jagged knife,

into the foolish head of puppy love,

a flea bite, water-wet body shaking

with discomfort, Confusion throbbed.

At fifteen, I planned to sneak into the Rose’s garage,

crank the engine,

and without the hatefulness of movement,

ride their bright blue Olds,

onto the single street of death.


When the Rose children needed the

basement to store their early lives,

thinking someone might want their leftovers,

might play pool again

or kiss in the big green chair

hidden in the darkest corner,

and Mr. Jimmy, with his companion “cancer,”

needed the garage for a dying bedroom,

the Olds traded in for the saddest space,

Disappointment strangled.

At 56, there was no safety.


At 65, when plans soured and quick exits disappeared,

I stuffed luggage with memories,

folded them as tight as starched shirts,

forcing a fit,

boxed my life like an unopened gift,

and waited for the moving God to pick me up,

take me past the Roses’ home,

(a “for sale” sign in the empty yard,)

the basement and garage gone dark.

and no one planning anything.


Teresa Blackmon is a retired English teacher and librarian. She received her MA in English from North Carolina State University and her MLS from North Carolina Central University. She is a lifetime writer whose bucket list is empty but for publishing a chapbook.