Cell phone, microwave, washer, dryer, cocktail shaker, TV, car, Wi-Fi, folding bike: of all the luxuries, my skin is the greatest, its understated melanin better than a credit card for the access it gives: a get-out-of-jail-free card because I never get hauled in for back-sass, my white skin glowing like a halo in a world where pigment is mistaken for pig or another so-called lesser form because color is hierarchical, a ladder I don’t have to climb because I was borne atop it like a star for the Christmas tree, pale and bright, the luck in luxury.
He never beat her. He didn’t have to. He’d already shown that he owned her when he put his fingers where no one else ever had. Is this what a father does? She had no way to answer that question. Light from the fixture above the sink rained down like Armageddon, like lemon juice into a papercut. He was impervious to the brightness spotlighting her shame, his crime. In that tiny, tiled room, they were encased in silence. No faint noise from the TV traveled up the stairs, no pan rattled to tell her there might be someone to twist the black doorknob. The loveliness of intimacy forever tainted by the despoiling of her nine-year-old body. Years later, when she’d found her anger, she rebuked him for the theft of her wholeness. It’s not easy, he said, to raise another man’s daughter, as if expecting praise for confusing raise for raze.
Yvonne Zipter is the author of the poetry collections Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound, The Patience of Metal, and Like Some Bookie God, the nonfiction books Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet, and the novel Infraction. Her poems have appeared in several anthologies and numerous periodicals, including Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. http://www.yvonne-zipter.com