Kenisha, Age 14, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI
He always came
in the early morning.
Only on Sunday, when you made us a special breakfast.
You would sing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin,
letting your voice carry through our apartment,
the smell of pancakes a thick undercurrent in the air.
But when he came you stopped.
He'd never liked your singing.
You'd quickly send us with plates full of food
to our room
and tell us to close the door.
But you never checked, so we never did.
We heard everything.
Your pleading voice, his angry one,
heavy steps as his boots thudded across
the tiles by the front door,
the sound of you collapsing in relief.
And then we'd come back out
and put our plates on the table,
We never did have any appetite after him.
But we still did it anyway.
The breakfast, I mean.
I guess we hoped he'd somehow forget about us.
Was it wrong to hope?
Well I did.
And I hoped again with all my heart
that he wouldn't come back later.
Because after he left you'd cry.
You'd lock yourself up in your room
on those beautiful Sunday evenings
when the sky painted itself
pink and purple and gold.