by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

  1. I think of all the kids
  2. sheltered-in-place with parents who never wanted them. Or
  3. maybe wanted the idea of them, but when they were born
  4. with colic and puke and pee and shit and
  5. no money for sitters, and the parents
  6. were at each other’s boozy throats, and made up
  7. by deciding it’s all their children’s fault,
  1.                                                                                                  the children hide,
  2. one in the hinged base of an end table, another in the dark tumult
  3. of a closet (not beneath the bed
  4. where they were found, shuddering, too many times)
  5. they hold their breath, listening, listening
  6. as their parents’ steps, whether stomps
  7. or lurches, get closer, louder.
  1. Quarantined in my apartment for days and days
  2. working at my computer, my husband, barefoot
  3. on the carpet, comes up behind me, rests
  4. his hands on my shoulders. His hands,
  5. which have been trusted to caress
  6. every part of me, become my father’s calloused hands,
  7. his middleweight boxer hands, large and meaty.
  1.                                                                                                  I shriek
  2. and can’t stop, even when I turn and see it’s my husband
  3. and not my dead father. Even when I see
  4. my husband’s startled eyes, his mouth frozen in an O,
  5. and hear him say, Sorry, so sorry,
  6. I didn’t mean… still
  7. I scream and scream
  8. and scream.
Packingtown Review – Vol.15, Spring 2021

In a past century Rochelle Jewel Shapiro's Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines such as La Presa, Stand, Carbon Culture Review, Cider Press Review, Typishly, and Willow Review. She currently teaches writing at UCLA Extension.

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