Triptych [smallpox blanket]

Three little girls lined up in
A row. Their father
Towers in terrible wrath.

“Did you do it?
Or you?
Or you?”

The girls, near-mute,
Look sideways at
Each other. Who

Did it this time?

“Swear on the Bible.
Put your right hand
On the book,
And swear.”

We all swore
Our innocence
Though one of
Us was always
Lying – usually
The youngest
Difficult child.

But we all knew
What would follow
The lie. One by
One, the girls
Were ordered
Face down –
The oldest sister had her
Own room, so
Her bed was most convenient—
For their beatings.

But everyone
Was fully clothed,
So it was decent
And the neighbors
Could safely
Ignore the screams.

I always screamed loudest too.

See, he wanted
Sons, so
I became his son
And fought him back.

Yes, I broke the comb.
Yes, I was playing
With your shaving cream
In the bathroom
Where you keep
The Playboy magazines.

Of course I need a beating. And sorry,
Sisters, I’m just too scared
To confess.

by Karen M. Seeley,
copyright 2014

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