Mean Brother Rising

shadow of womanMean brother rising
like a werewolf moon
from somewhere under my bed.

I remember it well. I hated the price.
At my expense,
a month’s worth of allowance
spent in a flash just to hear his laughter.
Money down the drain
flushed away in the toilet
where I threatened to drown him.
I wished him dead.
But Mama said, Behave yourself . . .
—ME!—
Don’t talk like that to your brother.
After all, boys will be boys.

My marriage was a variation
of the same old song
that subtle conditioning
learned in childhood rhymes. I was
sugar and spice and everything nice
taught to stand tall in his shadow
beside him beside myself
to stand there and take it.
Be silent, behave . . .
wash the dishes
clean the house
do laundry
cook
sew
tuck the kids in with fairy tale tales
and kiss them goodnight.
Then climb into bed.
Be silent, be brave . . .
Mend your own broken heart.
That’s what little girls are made of.
After all, boys will be boys.

This was connubial bliss?

I think, not so bad if that’s all it was
one roll in the hay.
But, hey . . . Two? Five? Ten?
When would it end?
And I must have been blind not to feel
the first glare of dagger eyes
that cut through me like a knife
him wanting to know,
What did you say?
as if it was the worst of sins
that I dare to defy
and ask simple questions
Who? What?
Why?
Where had he been?
Johnny’s so late at the fair.

Numb dumb
stupid girl
accepting the lies
for so long was so wrong
until I got smart and realized
the monster under my bed was in it.
A tax man come to collect his due.
After all . . .
You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
You forgive and forget
and try to remember
sometimes fairy tales do come true
for other people
as you wrap your legs
tightly around him
and ride with the wind.

No more . . . no way
too high a price to pay
for a trip that went nowhere.

Copyright © 2002 Patricia Petro • All rights reserved.