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  • Girls Who Wear Pretty Bras… for No One

    The stove light slicing the curtain whispered a welcome.
    Pushing open the unlocked door I knew it had deceived me.
    On the kitchen floor, my mother’s hair splayed
    fanning over the linoleum like spilled dishwater.
    My father straddled her; his large hands gripped
    her throat like a warrior’s band; her head lolled.
    Tripping over his boot I draped his broad back
    like some pathetic superhero’s tattered cape.
    One by one I pried his thick fingers from her,
    my own boots scuffing across those filled
    by a man who had swallowed a demon.

    His calloused hands grabbed my arms etching fingers.
    He heaved himself up stumbling and hurled my body
    onto the floor like a sack of dry wheat.
    He fitted his large boot like a hitch into my middle
    sliding me across the floor; the stove catching me.
    Sweetness from the serving set spilled over his steel toes.
    His kick scattering the grains, his sole crunching them.
    Thunder rumbled through my temple,
    his stomping dislodging the pure grit;
    he left leaving the back door wide open.
    A deflated moon ushered shadowy clouds
    past the black hole, the little dipper slid quietly out of sight.

    When I woke, my cheek hugged the cool floor.
    A song-less cricket skittered across specks of sugar.
    Ann Murray sang from the radio, “People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one.”
    My mother sat at the table gripping her worn, leather bible.
    She eyed weary pages that beckoned her; she ignored mocking bookmarks.
    Matted hair and a swollen face, she wore the penance of Sunday’s colors.
    The Sweet Salvation Baptist Church bus
    would pick me up for Sunday school
    where she said I would be wrapped in His love.
    Mother would worship; plead I thought, to her Jesus from home.
    She gave me a slice of Double Mint gum; I did not open it,
    I held it tight in my hand all morning; I held onto myself.

    His truck delivered him home creeping over still gravel.
    Indian Summer made an offering of the open door,
    it framed the hunched shoulders of his burly body.
    Rusted autumn enveloped him like his Saturday night companion.
    He looked old and hollow standing there, his eyes bleeding sorrow.
    He sobbed like a contrite child with a rhythm that he rocked himself to.
    Chinks of fiery light washed over his hanging head
    like a baptism.
    I wanted her Jesus to bathe him in sweet water
    as he spewed swollen promises of the meetings;
    the meetings where he professed what he was.
    I wanted him to go where others like him congregate
    to wash off the name.
    His tired words tumbled, landing face-up on the floor.
    I thought of girls who wear pretty bras...
    for no one.

    Pamela Wilonski
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