Inheritance This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 7, 2011
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There is a child on the wall
with Her face plastered beside the stick
figure in red and yellow.
The girl in the picture
is twirling in a nightgown at supper
with a smile so great
her eyes seem to have never existed
at all.

I hear the stutter at the breakfast table
with the bacon grease dripping down
over oven’s end
leaving a sleek run
for Mother to wash away
with the excess food we couldn’t fit
in our bellies.

I hear my mother in the dining room
with sinking dishes
and Father’s whiskey-breath hiding
in his scruff dozing down into his own
neck, yielding me away at the sight;
Mother’s hands tucking me away whispering,
“this is where I loved you first,” and I felt
a breast plate beneath my fingers
and Warmth’s digging heels in my ears.

Most often she left a place
for me
inside a cove of her wrinkling
brain or the shadows of her tongue.

I used to wait for her there, in the
crashing shorelines at serpent’s dusk -
but those days are gone;
as are the footprints she’d drug across
my forearm
with soft soot under her resting eyes.

There is a singing in my fingers
as her hair becomes the grass beneath my head.

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