You Ungrateful Girl
You beam when I call you Daddy—
my nod to your father figure role,
your desire to be needed.
On the arm of a man twice my age,
I am a walking cliché.
You cringe at my dialect and correct
my grammar, comment on my manners.
Our first stay at a hotel, I bring one bag.
You shake your head and say,
You don’t even own a suitcase, do you?
I become your wayward charge.
You grip my hand, saving me from a fall.
But Daddy, I dream of sullying your sheets,
your pressed shirts, your flawless life
with my dirty feet, my bloody knees.
Wrong Side Out
Friday evening, you come home from work
and narrow your eyes at my faded dress
as if studying the paisley pattern underwater.
The upstairs neighbors fight like tomcats,
yowling and stomping, rattling my plates.
They hack at each other with cruel words
and then run to the windows. They press
open wounds against the glass, revealing
rosy innards for the world to see.
You take my hand and lead me into dusk.
I know we will go to our usual place,
the bar in town. You will parade me
around, proud that I keep my cuts
tucked away inside my skin.
Best Left Buried
“Love is not unconditional.”
Who taught you those barbed words?
Was it your father during one of his rages?
I know you would take them back now,
stuff the hurt in your mouth and chew it
to harmless pulp,
so why do I resolve to unearth them?
Why do I topple into that grave
like a horror movie trope?
I grope at the soil with bloodied fingers
and broken nails. My heart is on my tongue
as I reach the worm-eaten coffin, pry open
the lid and reveal a preserved corpse
with a hint of rot, strong enough
to rip the breath from my throat.