Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2018  Vol. 17 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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End of the Marriage

I buried the paper dolls
In the empty lot behind our house.
First laying them flat on cotton pads
And then sliding them inside
The thick white leaves of an envelope.

I dropped them down in a shallow slit
I had dug in the ground, and sprinkled
Some dirt over them, and walked
Back home, thinking, Childhood
Is over. Because it was true:

Childhood was over. The girls
Were growing breasts, and the boys
Were watching, their faces sprouting
With pimples and dark, sharp hairs
Jutting up on their jaws and cheeks.

After church was when I’d lay them out
On the living room floor and move them
Around in the shapes of life. Nearby,
My father was always reading his paper.
My mother was roasting the Sunday meat.

And all that time, as she basted
And baked, my mother was sleeping
With another man, someone we would
Never even meet. Maybe that was why
My father sat so rigidly in the armchair

Where he could see her in the kitchen,
Bending down to thrust the thermometer’s
Steel skewer deep inside the browning roast.
Only she could see the center was still cool
And bloody pink—the meat too raw to eat.  

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