Dorothy Allison,

From "Upcountry"

That summer you were seven,
I was nine, and I knew it all
the light in your eyes
the darkness in mine
Little sister, did I tell you then
what I never said after?
how much I loved you?
how certain I was it would not help?

The fire you set I lied about
that glass I broke, you pressed to your mouth
that red brick porch and slanging yard
a dirt stretch of dead grass and abandoned  cars
the country of all my dreams, night terrors
where your eyes were always going dull
and someone was always screaming

the country were we knew ourselves

When the uncles came to visit
pickups parked aslant the yard
bottles that rocked from board to rim
shotguns point down beside the gears
a leather holster or a canvas sling
I watched the neighbors squint their eyes
"no count, low down, disgusting"
I put  my nails to the bones of my neck
and squeezed, trying to understand.

You don't know where she's been.
I know where I've been...

Understand me. What I am here for is to tell you
stories you may not want to hear.   And to scare
hell out of you now and then. I was raised
Baptist, I know how to do that.

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