my momma, a petite, quiet woman
who hates cooking but loves sewing,
loves my papa, who hates reading but loves singing,
very, very much. on chilly nights, they’d curl up together
on our new pleather sofa to watch Jeopardy!,
and yell out their goofy, incorrect answers.
once, momma was late for Jeopardy!. she came home two hours late
with a brown, plastic grocery bag. i went to pick up some veggies,
momma said. papa snatched the bag away.
she bit her lip, and said: i also went to Ricky’s to get the—
momma never got to say what was in the bag;
papa slapped her left cheek, shoved her against the wall,
and whispered something into her tiny ears.
she crumbled to the floor and sobbed, while holding
her reddened cheek. later that night, she told me
not to worry; papa loves her, and papa loves me too.
i believe you, momma. i do.
last year, i met a boy. the first time the warmth of his hands
enveloped mine, i knew we were meant to be. he gave me
chocolate roses and white teddy bears
when it wasn’t valentine’s day. he even carried my books
and kissed my forehead. Cosmo quizzes said
he’s a keeper.
after a night of lovemaking, i fell asleep to the sound
of his beating heart. he woke me up, and we kissed again.
when his fingers played with my panties,
i said: i’m tired, and i need to go home. he ignored me.
again, i said: no, leave me alone, i want to go home.
when i shouted, he smacked me;
when i struggled, he punched me.
i cried. he whispered, i’m sorry, i just love you too much.
that’s when i realized that i loved him too much, too.