from my mother
i watched a child wring a kitten’s neck
and smile while she did it.
my rage cooled, then reignited
when i looked into the face of my own daughter -
her brow low, her lips tight,
her earnest eyes on me,
a pitchy “shut up!” thrown at our barking dogs.
i acknowledged heavily
for the tenth time this week
that all she knows is all she learns
once, when i was a child,
i found a small frog and kept it in my pocket.
it died a linty death.
i buried it in shale
and cried in hymns.
up the hill lived an old woman.
our back yards collided.
where the grass should have been,
just high, dry weeds.
the roof caved above the porch
shading unwashed windows shrugging off their shutters.
“posted: no trespassing” - posted everywhere.
on a day when a bravery possessed me,
i climbed the hill.
i found a deer skull in a shed
and i held it like a kindred spirit.
proof of death made life in me,
turned bravery to wicked wildness.
no, it couldn’t be a woman who lived there.
from all the nonfiction my mother buried in performance,
i learned women keep up appearances.
and all that wildness is a secret.
i bought a tape deck today.
i want to listen to a new song in an imperfect way
the sentimental way things used to be worth everything when they weren’t worth anything.
the honest way things went unshared except with you
liberty, anonymity, in the meadow rue
i’m leaning into the heavy-press keys
meditating in the slow turn of play
whirring in the yearn of rewind.
the tape door snaps
asmr before we called it that.
the one old cassette i have is yours
your songs -
the ones you wrote for me
on the back porch while it rained
and we didn’t care because no one knew and as long as it rained
we could stay here believing
our lies could be promises.
when i burned your letters
i kept the last one
and i kept that tape.
you wrote my name on the a-side.
i added “do not listen.” on the b.
Vic is an emerging writer of poetry and flash fiction; her work tends to explore small traumas, misremembrances, and Ohio, where she is from. Her work appears in The Daily Drunk. After earning her English/Creative Writing degree from Denison University in 2010, she discovered a passion for animal welfare working as a humane agent. Her return to writing is a personal reclamation. Twitter: @vicnogay
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