HUSH

Because mama locked me out when the white powder
made her nose bleed and I cried and said stop
and my eyes were her knives. I went to the doctor
and he didn’t see the cuts, only saw the twitch,
my eye twitching and thinking of heaven
and he said, “What’s wrong? Are you on something?”
“She is drinking me,” I tell the doctor and his eyes
are like robots and he gives me a pill
that says hush. Grandma says be quiet, you’re peeling
the wallpaper and I can’t sit and drink
quietly with all this noise, please make me another
dear, make me another and the bottle has a hole
and I see mama in there, her head pressed
against the glass. I wait for her to look up, to see
my eyeball against the rim but she is holding
her breath and tucking her knees to her chest
and floating like a comma. I wait for a man to come in
but no man comes in. The door stays open-
a torn tooth-
and so I pour mama into the sink
and leave her there like a fish.
Get me one of your pills, grandma calls
from the living room. I need some quiet.
And her face moves like wax and her spine holds
the wax up like a lady, like her mama taught her.
Upstairs, the door is not locked and I crawl
into the tub on my belly. My heart is a beating
bird and I count it one, two, three and I wonder
how long I can hold my breath in this dead
sea and I suck everything in and begin counting.

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