That Stuff

I thought I had no right
to claim the pain of
what happened in my family.

What happened for years.
What happens forever
in the silent reels of archived
movies running out of control
in my head.

You were only kids,
someone told me once.
What you did was not that stuff.
Don’t write about that stuff.
Forget about that stuff.

It’s not like it was your father
or anything

No. It was not anything

It was not my father.
It was my brother, my sister, me
My brother, my sister, me.

We were caught in a
dismembered circle
the five of us. Me in the middle.
The fifth wheel.
The unholy center.

Our circle spread out from
brother to sister.
To sister to brother.
Brother brother.
Sister sister.

Then one day Sister married
and brother-in-law;
joined the circle.

He was not a kid. And me,
I thought I was a kid.
But no, he told me I was a woman.
At eleven, I was a woman
I was a woman for him.
For him, while Sister lay
next to him on the blanket
in the backyard
under the big night sky
under the quilt.

Sister thought
he wanted only her.
Sister thought
I was just a kid.

brought his friend into
the circle to share the little woman.
I didn’t know he shared
little Sister, too.

over the years,
the circle grew wider:
Daughters. Big Sister’s daughters.
We all grew up together.

A dark family circle.
Dark, like the pupil in the
center of brother-in-law’s
bright eyes.

A dark, frightening circle
None of us knowing
the other’s place around
the ring of silence.

Till something snapped
when I grew up.
Like a fresh-picked green bean,
something snapped and

now I write.
I write about the circle.
I write about that stuff.