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 My junior year of high school my father
started sleeping on the couch downstairs.
My mothers voice took on the buzz
of a long-muzzled animal. On the hotel bed
on the class trip to New York I told Roxanne
about the fights; he said that's not
a good sign and stared at the ceiling. My
Spanish teacher was leaving her husband
for another woman, a fact I knew firsthand
but about which much of the student body
was mumbling, including Roxanne's
field hockey team, all of whom had met
the announcement of homophobic hate
mail appearing in my locker with a slightly
over-sugared sympathy, eyes sliding
toward the boys they half-fucked on weekends.
I didn't lie to Roxanne about my teacher
because I didn't tell him anything. That summer,
both our homes imploded. Days were spent
dividing spoons. I carried an abandoned couch
from the school parking lot to my teacher's house
in the back of my van, and then slept on it
when there was nowhere else to stay.
My mother rattled around her friend's empty
property like a loose pinball. My father
made whole-wheat pancakes again and again,
full of little pockets of baking powder.
I learned cognates and gruesome verbs,
washed the dishes in the kitchen. My teacher played
flamenco on the tape deck, harsh, scalded voices
that split the doorway, asking no one for permission.
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Author:Chamness, Fiona
Publication:Prairie Schooner
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2019
Words:269
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