According to Tolstoy

Grandmom took me to the park today.
She didn’t want to, I’m for certain,
But Daddy didn’t pick me up
For our special weekend together.
And my goldfish died, again.
I think she feels sorry for me.

We threw whatever food was left
in the rusty old refrigerator
into a plastic drugstore bag;
Some cold chicken and a hard-boiled egg,
Two tubes of bright blue yogurt,
An apple lodged in the back of the crisper.
We were having us a picnic.

I was a pity party for me, really,
But even knowing that,
I was excited to be outside,
Happy to go to the playground,
Eager to escape my chores
In the close confines of Grandmom’s apartment.

All around us, perfect families spent the day
Together. All of them.
Mothers, fathers, all the kids.
Playing, grilling food, laughing.
Loving.

My mom went away.
Grandmom says it’s good riddance;
I’m not so sure.
I miss my mom.

How come? I wondered. Why them, and not me?
“Happy families are all alike,” Grandmom says.
“Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
That’s Tolstoy, she says, so it’s the honest truth.
It’s better to be unique.

I don’t much know what Tolstoy is,
And I don’t know exactly what unique means.
But if it’s what we are,
I’d rather not be it.
I’d rather be happy.

(Hour 12, Poetry Marathon 2020. This prompt has steps, and you have to do them in order. Don’t look ahead to the next step before completing the previous one. 1. Grab a book off a shelf at random. – I got Anna Karenina – 2. Read the first line of the book and the last line of the book. 3. Pick one of them. First line: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” 4. You have to use every single word in this line in a poem. Those words can be used at any point in the poem.)

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