By: Madeline Schimka
Graphic Design: Quintin Zielinski
like cracked leather on a stale whip,
you struck me, eighteen years ago,
that savage night,
while my mother pleaded to heaven.
with the football game droning on
and the crisp smell of greasy chips
and bubbling soda:
the snores roared in my nightmares.
you were the first man who made me
realize it was impossible to love.
it was a sin,
you said, to be so damned.
my mother sang the lullabies,
you smashed them like china on stone,
allowing the shattered, sharp edges to slice clean through my flesh.
the sword can only be pulled out by the truth.
good thing you always lied.
i remember that muggy summer night
you invited those teenage boys into my bedroom.
it took me six years of ferociously shoveling shriveled-up dirt over the memory,
and eight months to reveal the secret.
my middle finger was never strong enough
compared to your corruption.
i remember gazing at you that new years eve night
and knowing it would be the last time i
would ever see the face of my father.
it’s been nine months.
seventeen years is hard to erase with smeared charcoal.
like a sharpie that has crossed x’s over my brain,
i am melting in a pile of permanent ink.
i write to call you out,
because speaking to you leaves me mute and frozen.
i didn’t realize how bad the razor slash was
until i bled all over my white sheets.
like a virgin taken by her soul
and dragged over the rocky lake,
i pleaded to the afterlife to let me be enough.
i am still amplifying your manipulative
for a sufficient and redundant daughter.
i am more than a last name on a piece of bleached paper.
i am more than a daughter to be pushed down in the chalky soot
and spat at with riddled slurs.
i am learning now that i am not your mistakes.
i am more than the names you screeched at me.
i am more than your daughter.