Why I Wasn’t Supposed to Be Born

Dread dad’s migraine,
constrained, rigid along
couch, streams of blood
shuffling opaque dreams,
 

mine-shafts, constriction,
encephalitis contracted
first that Christmas, my sister
sore, a swell ’neath mama’s
 

chiffon. He nearly croaked.
Said. Miracle… Flash a decade.
On the love-seat, Mama
perspires dew-like, binds
 

my sister’s hair, coils even
in a bronze light, stark
as fate on each etching,
these facades mask a stirring.
 

Stern like God, Mama still
won’t move, just stare obligation
as I square, swing along
ceramics, tilt on tiles, nudge
 

kitchen drawers. They creak.
Will Their Eyes, blue lampshade
See? I return, want to touch
his thick beard, so sharp amid
 

angles, his chin. I want to hurt.
Like you father, grunting, cleaving
IV’s like tinsel-blades from each
crease of elbow, my Spectacle!
 

Show me the mark, not gleam,
shadow on white teeth, this low rag,
banner I offer, Father, ugly as need.
Maybe I’ll cuss today, maybe sing.

Front page image from Esther Porter.

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Rachel Peterson

About the Author

Born in Bloody Harlan, Kentucky, Rachel Danielle Peterson now teaches on the Pacific island of Saipan. A poem from her manuscript is featured in Literary Imagination. More poems can be found in places like The Burden of Light anthology, Arsenic Lobster, Midwestern Gothic, Her Royal Majesty, Upstart, and The Los Angeles Review. “Elegy of the Gun,” was nominated for Best New Poets, and her manuscript was chosen as a Semi-finalist for the Trio Award for First/Second Book by Trio House Press.
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