He Says He Love Us

by Amber Beck



But there is a brick between 
our teeth. 

It is solid and sharp and 
tastes of dirt and appeasement. 

It has cut the insides of 
our cheeks 

hundreds of times 
so we are more often than not 

tasting blood. 
There is a brick between 

our teeth 
but it isn’t between his. 

My father has never known that copper taste, 
or the feel of his teeth chipping

one by one. 
He will watch us, 

ask us to tell him what’s wrong 
while he holds our jaws closed

so we can’t release the brick
and damage his fragile heart. 

There is a brick between
our teeth and his stare 

has always felt violent 
but when he got on his knees and begged for forgiveness 

I pointed at the brick
and shook my head.

There is a brick between 
our teeth 

and it is named hatred. 
My sister, mother, and I 

have never known a different taste, 
always forced to breathe through 

I want to tell him that 

if he released our jaws 
the bricks would fall and 

he could stand on them and 
appear taller 

but his grip is too tight and 
besides, I think my jaw is locked. 

I am no longer sure 
I can taste anything else.

I am afraid to find out. 
There is a brick between 

our teeth. 
I don’t think it’s always been there and 

I have a feeling it won’t always be 
but my mouth has begun to bleed again and 

so now I must focus on not 
choking on my own blood. 

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