No one needs to know a secret
to sense its weight. Who knew
what sort of girl I was, anyway?
I couldn’t answer
the most basic questions: Do you know
where you’ll go when you die?
Do you know who saved you?
David figured I wouldn’t tell a soul,
pinned me to the couch in my father’s den,
pressed my hand against
his insistent threat—
I did that sort of thing,
He was Sarah’s on-again/off-again;
she thought she knew him.
Easy to buy that country-boy routine:
the drawl, the manners, his perfect
attendance at Sunday school.
Crying over calculus homework,
my solutions blurred as I tried
to tell her, Don’t be alone with him
ever again, please, please.
As my throat tightened,
her eyes narrowed. She knew
any heathen will lie;
only ruin a man.
I remembered the framed photo
in her bedroom: his sleepy smile,
his arm around her shoulder.
I’ll pray for you, she said.
I couldn’t have known.
She had perfect
teeth, a four-post bed
with a dreamy canopy,
she showed me
photos from around the world,
that model smile with so many
her father’s name
on a building downtown.
She talked to me on the phone
late at night, slipped into French
as she drifted off.
The obnoxious quarterback
called me faggot in the parking lot
and she dared him, Come closer
and say that again.
The first time she hurt me,
I thought accident. I leaned
into my bathroom mirror,
counted her perfect teeth in the deep
bruise on my collarbone.
I hid it.
The first time she threatened me
was in a love letter, a full paragraph
for how she would hunt me,
beat me, bleed me if I ever left,
slipped between passages
of fevered praise, I adore you
The first time I dared
to leave, she turned up
everywhere. I rounded
the corner in the bookstore
and there she was with that smile.
I flashed back to how calm
she seemed as her hands
tightened around my neck,
how I tried to look her in the eye
as everything went still, my vision
narrowing into blackness,
the throbbing in my ears growing
distant. I steadied myself against a bookcase,
scanned the store for someone I knew;
At school, the assistant principal glared at me,
said, You hug your friends
a bit too long; one day some boys
followed me home, fired a pellet gun
through my open window at a stoplight,
call me dyke as every pop
stung my cheeks; the way my father
said queer tasted like blood in my mouth;
my mother said, Those people
should never have children. I spent
weeks finding pellets rolling
in my floorboard. Lily said,
No one else
will ever love you.
Logen Cure is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Still, Letters to Petrarch, and In Keeping. She’s an editor for Voicemail Poems. She curates Inner Moonlight, a monthly reading series at The Wild Detectives in Dallas. She serves as an English faculty member at Tarrant County College and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She lives in Texas with her wife and daughter. Learn more at www.logencure.com.