a poem some days (exceptindreams) wrote,
a poem some days
exceptindreams

1023: Smoke

Warning: This poem is about sexual abuse.

“Smoke”
Alison Townsend

I knew about your reputation
before I knew you, heard how you’d stagger—
drunk off your ass at a keg party—
into a car with the boy’s basketball team
and go down on every one. I’d seen them
dump you off afterwards, shoving you
out the door with empty Budweiser bottles
and ash trays of Marlboro butts.

But I needed to know you
and you knew to reach for me,
and the night I stepped forward
when you stumbled and fell from the car
became the two of us laughing each day
over cigarettes in the girl’s room
before the bell sent us running—
you to Voc Tech Cosmetology,
me to Honors French.

You sewed me an Indian print dress
drenched with sandalwood and patchouli.
We skipped out of school, hitch-hiked,
ripped off mirror dresses and albums,
and danced together in the bathroom
at the Om coffee house, the faint blue smoke
of our first joints swirling around us like silk.

I thought we told one another everything.

But what I remember now
is how you begged me to sleep over,
even on school nights.
And how we lay beside one another
in your French Provincial bed,
listening to your father
walk back and forth outside your door.
I feel better when you’re here, you said once,
sinking into sleep like a child
while I stared at your collection
of “Dolls from Around the World”
and they stared back at me

the way they must have stared at him
when he came into your room
and put those hands that sliced
through sides of beef each day
upon you and made you do it.
Until you got it right. Until
it was what you knew how to do best.
Until there was no going back
from the boys in the car
or your job as a call girl in Denver.

And God forgive me, Amanda.
I never even tried to phone
or meet you for a drink
the way we used to meet
for cigarettes in the girl’s room,
my hand on your cheek,
all the things we never said
laid out on the table between us,
smoke still rising
through the bright blond
garden of your hair.
Tags: alison townsend
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