by B. E. Cotton aka Chepodfinn

"Ma, the water's too hot

It burns my hands"

"Be lucky it's not from the tank

On the back of the cookstove

Like Grammy Davis used to make me

Put my hands in."

" Here some bleach water'll kill the germs"

She dumps the bleach into the scalding water

My hands burn

The fumes make me want to gag

My eyes burn

I will them not to tear-

She'll think I'm crying.

"Do the dishes you booger eatin' moron."

"But Ma said it's your turn"

"I'm in charge. Do the dishes"

" It's your turn."

He flicks a penny at me

It grazes the back of my head.

"Do the dishes you fat bitch"

The butter knife smacks me

In the back of the bare leg

From where he's thrown it from across the table.

"Do the dishes lazy bitch"

A sharp knife sticks into the cupboard

Next to where I'm standing

He moves around the table

The hunting knife is in the drawer beside me

So sharp it can cut off your finger

I fall to the floor

I curl into a ball-

I know I am dead

He kicks me and slugs me several times instead

"Get to fuck out of here before I kill you

Good for nothing bitch."

I head for the playground

" No tears stupid bitch no tears"

I choke them back

There are no tears

I run to the swings

Hot black seat scorches my thighs

My hands wrap around the rusty chains

My mouth tastes like sulfur and rust

As the paper mill poisons fill my lungs

I pump harder and harder

I swing higher and Higher

I am free

I sing: it's gonna be a cold lonely summer

I sing it loud over and over

As the sun beats down off the metal

And onto my shoulders

Dark time comes

I go home

Hands rust stained and blistered

Shoulders blistered.

"Why'd ya stay in the sun so long?

Stupid bitch-just look at your shoulders"

" Dunno lost track of time."

She cuts the straps off my tank top

They're imbedded in the blisters

The blisters pop and she cleans them out.

I got to wear my big brother's white tee shirts for a week.

No one asks about the bruises

Clumsy bitch is always banging herself

On something.


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