Angela Allen

A young woman with long wavy hair looks out over lake from a rocky shore

She asked me to come early,
called me to the bedroom,
stood still as a soldier
in her slip,
simple, satin, white,
like one my mother wears.
She looked nice in it,
not the type of woman
who lurched like a sloppy drunk
on Saturday nights.
She rested her right foot
in the curve of her left leg,
just below the knee,
a triangle of late daylight
shot through her. She held the bedpost
though she didn’t need balance
in early evening.
She was 27 years old,
and pretty,
and told me things,
as if I were older.

“It’s not your fault,
I just want you to know that,”
she said. “I love someone else anyway.
His wife is a namby-pamby.
I knew it was inevitable.
The divorce.”

I am the babysitter.


When he walks me home
that night, he says,
“We were never in love, really.
She got pregnant in college,
and then the twins came later.
I don’t know how that happened.”

What an unlucky lucky family
is all I can think.

I am 17.

The neighbor’s light bounces
off his smooth skin,
polished leather.

He brushes my hair
over my shoulder,
and says, “It’s gleaming,”
like the white fence
in the moonlight,
the magnolia blossoms.
He kisses my cheek,
touches my hand,
grazes my hipbone
with his fingertips.
A foghorn blooms up
from the Ohio River,
thick and deep
as August humidity
cloaking me
in barely breathing wool,
cicadas drilling a chant
among the hawthorns,
scent of soft tar
after afternoon heat.

And that was all.

Some things are stubborn,
like stains, oddly shaped,
refusing to fade
like a birthmark, a slip of skin
stuck to a mother’s womb
from the beginning, never letting go.