Just because Mother told
Father he looked like some
New York tourist, with his
Loud shirt and hanging camera,
He hit her once or twice, you
Couldn’t tell, just remember
The yell, the cry and flurry of
Fists. Mother looked a wreck
After that, her eyes gazed out
On a different world like some
Columbus on dangerous seas.
You fuck with me woman,
You’re going to regret it,
Father said, his bass voice
Flowing around the room like
A large bell, his knuckles
Speckled in bright blood.
Mother’s spirit was black
And blue, but he never once
Touched you, not even a raised
Hand; just his words and stare
Kept you out of there. You can
See her now, cowering when he
Came in, standing stooped over
The sink and saying softly, Mary
Lou, don’t say nothing when
Your daddy comes in just let him
Settle in to his chair just let him
Be calm and unwind, don’t bring
Him troubles or worries, just let
Him be there. You watched as she
Shook when his key hit the lock,
The young woman she’d been aged
With each hard look and knock.
You sit now and see her in the
Crazy house, wandering the ward,
Gibbering to the walls. You can
Still recall your father sitting in
His chair, his eyes in some lifeless
Stare, with the carving knife Mother
Had thrust into him, well rooted
There and in the background on
The radio some Country and Western
Singer was singing deep and slow.
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