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Cinnamon

My stepmom smells like
vanilla and something else.
Something else I can’t name.
I don’t know if I like her yet,
my stepmom.
Vanilla is okay.
I guess.
My Mother smelled like
cinnamon
Cinnamon was my favorite.
My mother always carried cinnamon candies with her
They filled up her jean’s pockets
Once she left two in.
and the candies got washed,
making the jeans sticky forever.

I keep those jeans in a box
In the back of my closet
Along with the frayed baby pictures of me
In her arms.
My father doesn’t know that I have them.
He thought he threw them out.
In tiny pieces.
Along with the rest of her.
But I fished the pictures
Out of the garbage,
Scraping off the pizza sauce,
And putting them back together
with scotch tape.

I saved the jeans from the curb
Where they sat in a heap
To go to the salvation army.
No woman, no matter how homeless
Should wear my mother’s jeans.

My stepmom hates jeans.
She thinks they make me look like a boy
She tells me that she’ll take me to the store
And buy me real clothes,
When she moves in.
I can buy my own clothes.
And I don’t make it a secret.
She tells me not to be a smart aleck.
I tell her that she’s not my mother.
She tells me that she is now
I say that I hate her.
Then she cries.
And runs to my father.
Sobbing into his chest
Wailing that she’s trying.
To do what’s best for me.
I don’t want to believe her.
My father glares at me and tells me to apologize.
I won’t
So I run to my room
And put on my mother’s jeans
the fabric
balled around my ankles.
Still two sizes
Too big.

I remember the day
he threw her out.
It was a cold day
And I was seven.
I heard yelling.
Then she started packing.
I asked her why she was going
But my mother just smiled,
In that sad kind of way,
And pressed a cinnamon candy into my palm.
By the time I realized
What was happening
It was already too late
My mother had already started to drive away
I cried
And screamed for her not to go.
My father held me down
As I wailed.
I beat on his chest
And told him I hated him
He said nothing
Still as a statue
And blind
As one too.
My stepmom
Never talks
About my mother.
She acts as though
She never existed.
As if she was only a figment
Of my imagination



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