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Summertime brought the buzzing,
slow moving skydivers in the corner of her room
The bedsheet, a veil between her little face
and the dipping invaders
So many nights sobbing quietly
She said: Daddy, they’re going to hurt me
his apple butter,
his reassuring voice
They won’t hurt you, they’re only mud daubers
The fever is too high, it’s an infection,
A campus nurse drove her to the doctor
Musty exam room, threadbare curtains, his quiet questions
She was dizzy-sick and the nurse had vanished
No one would protest his strange examination
Struggling to refasten her blouse buttons, she thought
Something has happened
But she smiled and laughed in the outer office
Thanks for the medicine
Pillow talk, the sky was moonlit August
What about this, what about that, why do you cause this menace
Quick, rough hands closing around her throat
His wedding band,
his sour breath,
He spoke, but she couldn’t make out any words
Stunned, crying, she called her brother
You’ve both been drinking,
are you bruised?
it’s the alcohol…
Forget it, if it didn’t leave a mark
Plant a little garden in a fishbowl
Stay busy, pressed against a trustworthy man
It is late in the day and night is falling, colder than before
Every breath, a halting safety
Tender little rabbits, this is the lesson
It left a mark.
Indignity, fear, and shame
are questioning bells
You already know how to silence them