Matters of the Father

She could live on chips on paint chips potato chips the poker chips he stacked in towers on the nightstand she could live in glass or underground or in his Cadillac she lived inside his head his cowboy boots she found a scorpion in once stabbed him in the shoulder by mistake he called her lucky charm called her witch made her practice in a walk-in closet how to cast a spell draw fortune how to make herself more pretty she dreamed she buried the brother she didn’t have dreamed her brother was dwarfed he died when her father called her pet he died when her father left she learned to live in the parking lot alone outside the casino learned to live at the bar by the pool tables theatres where men shot men raped women shot women shot themselves skinned animals ran one another over and over she learned to live in his smoke his vodka his idea of perfection the perfect girl the perfect evening unencumbered by her needs she dreamed of being buried on her knees her knees are plum so cute and sore so sturdy the father is dying now the girl is grown she dances with knives in her panties the men love her knives she loves the mistakes she makes the knives are her father the men are her father the panties are wool are sheep she dances in sheep with knives she strips off the sheep and for a moment feels her flesh at peace with her flesh she almost puts away the knives almost lets the men lose interest there is still so much work to do
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