After this friend left, I excused myself to go to the bathroom, where I shut the door and fell to my knees, shaking and crying. I wished that my brother had been different. And I wished that I had been more forgiving and compassionate. I wished that everything between us had been different. I was on that floor for a while.
But then I accidentally bite into one of the sour, acrid parts of quarantine. It’s easy to forget, when you live four hundred miles away, that your mother’s temper can be sparked by something as benign as family movie night or a run-in with the Hertz rental-car dealership.
In three years, I thought, Lia’s chin would reach my crown. Or my crown would touch her chin? At some point the height order reverses itself, and then they leave you. Or you are overtaken by someone’s respiratory droplets in the produce section and you leave first.
I never told you this, because I was worried you would judge me too harshly, but the worms died. There, I said it. My loyal, silent kitchen-scrap eaters, my earthworms, all melted into a puddle of gore and oozing black death, right on our porch.
and Ronnie says Robert Hayden got / it right, a whipping be like that — “the face that I no longer / knew or loved” — damn, that’s it, right there and / Ronnie doesn’t blame his mama for beating him so bad, but / maybe she could have kept her pipe in the car and then maybe / he never would have ended up in a foster home