Saturday, 20 May 2017

Little Helper

The four boys got exciting toys.
Their messes were soldiers,
Play-Doh, or parts of a train set.

I got Barbie dolls,
a book, new clothes,
or new Barbie clothes.
I didn’t make a mess.
Au contraire, I had to clean up
the boys’ mess, Mama said.
I said, No.

As he swung his belt,
Dad’s face went white, and his freckles stood out.
Dammit!
Obey your mother!
The belt snapped as it bit my shoulders.

Dad went wild,
smacking me on the arms, head, neck.
I howled.
He wasn’t going to stop till he half killed me.

The shoulder of my pajama top had slipped down,
exposing my chest with its pips.
He barked, Shut up!
and flung down the belt.

Not making eye contact,
he pointed towards the door.
Go help your mother.

I cleaned my brothers’ mess.
Model airplanes. Careful.

* * * * *

“Little Helper” was first published in 13 Myna Birds (2016).

A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature and English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Thirteen Myna Birds, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of PoetryRogue AgentDeaf Poets Society, and other journals.