Momma did her best to silence
the spite-spitting:

threatening those who
left questions in my closet,

distancing any who designed hurt
to fit my bones. Daddy, instead,

made me apologize
to the darkness

which stared down the hillside,
malice in mind, and in the guise
of a grandmother’s smile.

Untendered child, I quit leaning
into my mother’s shadow; instead,

learned her hellcat ways.

I Didn’t Cry At Her Funeral

The death bed, too alive with resignation, lengthened the affirmations.
Language neither of us were in practice for found us, each in different

ways. She’d softened, maybe in reaction to the unreadiness on my face.
I made the decision she was aware of herself, but maybe not. Regardless,

I offered forgiveness of the admissions she couldn’t manage, realizing
it best to leave it be, to avoid re-entering the rooms I was never welcome in.

Days later, no more or less to be said, the casket closed—dismissed her
of her notions, her adaptations to truth. Edged on the pew leaning forward

I sat looking down at my feet while the preacher, Baptist and full of fire,
praised a woman who’d for years found the simplest ways to confuse

my worth. Lacking hesitance, she had so often taken aim at my frame,
called me thick-thighed, cackled at my ankles—too fat for my calves,

suggested I was unfit for anyone to take home, presumed I wanted to be
owned, when I didn’t and wouldn’t be. An insult to her blues, my brown

eyes found focus on the church floor while I flipped through the years
of my youth, recounting each time she would say that blonde hair sells you

as a whore. Fifteen and a virgin, the thinnest of her grandchildren, faulted
then for who I favored and again for being unwilling to cry at her burial.


Rachel Nix is an editor for cahoodaloodalingHobo Camp Review and Screen Door Review. Her own work has appeared in BarrenOcculum, and Pidgeonholes. She resides in Northwest Alabama, where pine trees outnumber people rather nicely, and can be followed at @rachelnix_poet on Twitter.