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
"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