"Sit in my hand." I'm ten. I can't see him, but I hear him breathing in the dark. It's after dinner playtime. We're outside, hidden by trees and shrubbery. He calls it hide-and-seek, but only my little sister seeks us as we hide and she can't find us, as grandfather picks me up and rubs his hands between my legs. I only feel a vague stirring at the edge of my consciousness. I don't know what it is, but I like it. It gives me pleasure that I can't identify. It's not like eating candy, but it's just as bad, because I had to lie to grandmother when she asked, "What do you do out there?" "Where?" I answered. Then I said, "Oh, play hide-and-seek." She looked hard at me, then she said, "That was the last time. I'm stopping that game." So it ended and I forgot. Ten years passed, thirtyfive, when I began to reconstruct the past. When I asked myself why I was attracted to men who disgusted me I traveled back through time to the dark and heavy breathing part of my life I thought was gone, but it had only sunk from view into the quicksand of my mind. It was pulling me down and there I found grandfather waiting, his hand outstretched to lift me up, naked and wet where he rubbed me. "I'll do anything for you," he whispered, "but let you go." And I cried, "Yes," then "No." "I don't understand how you can do this to me. I'm only ten years old," and he said, "That's old enough to know."
She Didn't Even Wave
For Marilyn Monroe
I buried Mama in her wedding dress
and put gloves on her hands,
but I couldn't do much about her face,
blue-black and swollen,
so I covered it with a silk scarf.
I hike my dress up to my thighs
and rub them,
watching you tip the mortuary fan back and forth.
Hey. Come on over. Cover me all up
like I was never here. Just never.
Come on. I don't know why I talk like that.
It was a real nice funeral. Mama's.
I touch the rhinestone heart pinned to my blouse.
Honey, let's look at it again.
See. It's bright like the lightning that struck her.
I walk outside
and face the empty house.
You put your arms around me. Don't.
Let me wave goodbye.
Mama never got a chance to do it.
She was walking toward the barn
when it struck her. I didn't move;
I just stood at the screen door.
Her whole body was light.
I'd never seen anything so beautiful.
I remember how she cried in the kitchen
a few minutes before.
She said, God. Married.
I don't believe it, Jean, I won't.
He takes and takes and you just give.
At the door, she held out her arms
and I ran to her.
She squeezed me so tight:
I was all short of breath.
And she said, don't do it.
In ten years, your heart will be eaten out
and you'll forgive him, or some other man, even that
and it will kill you.
Then she walked outside.
And I kept saying, I've got to, Mama,
hug me again. Please don't go.