Cheryl A. Hemmerle: on thousand acre road

Spring '11 TOC

three children sleep in a row
share one room in the small new england cape cod
on thousand acre road

creaking wood floor, white plastered wall
sheers blowing in the summer breeze
hum of a window fan
cow manure in the air
blends with baby powder

six year-old girl asleep in the middle
wears a green polka-dotted nightgown
braces on her feet
black leather shoes welded to a metal bar
easy for him to hurt her down there

darkness interrupted by streams of car lights
dash across the ceiling
yellow and red dots dance inside
closed eyelids holding breath
clutching sheets and sweating

he eats peanut butter on velveeta cheese
in the kitchen in his underwear

she never tells anyone:
carries a can of markers
into the bathroom
lifts her nightgown
stuffs six, eight inside
wants to make it bigger so
his won’t hurt so much

fuzzy blue throw rugs
cold tiles and scratchy grout
water running in the toilet
smell of bactine and soap
whispers in the hall

hide evidence under the bed
in the back of the drawer
between clean shirts
wiped from her body
erased by a dream


she won’t recover from her losses
she’s not chosen this path
but she watches who it crosses1


in the morning before breakfast
she walks barefoot into the yard
dodges dog poop and ant hills
steps over cracks in the dirt
to pick purple lilacs
for her mother

1. "The Girl with the Weight of the World in Her Hands" by The Indigo Girls.

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