“The Sitter” by Charles O’Hay

I once took a job babysitting the apocalypse.
All afternoon we spent tearing paper birds,

paper hearts. We filled the tub and played
Drown That Dictator, then stuffed a balloon

with national anthems and sailed it out
over the cactus factory. She was little then

and spent her time teething on armadas
or crawling over cities on her chubby pink

knees. On her fifth birthday she got a tsunami
and a whole box of tornadoes, but cried

when they ran away. At twelve her braces
came off and she could bite the heads off

the chocolate bunnies again. She didn’t
need me anymore, so her mother thanked me

and let me go. On cold nights I still miss lighting
the cornfields for her, watching them burn.

Charles O’Hay is the author of two collections, Far from Luck (2011) and Smoking in Elevators (2014), both available from Lucky Bat Books. His work has appeared in over 125 literary publications.

Image: “Colony Plaza 411 State Street Albany 1924,” from Albany Public Library History Collection

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