So Sweet

by Jennifer Schallehn

A welcome mat of rosebuds

(This poem contains domestic abuse.)

Your homeboy asked what you liked best about me,
and you answered,
“She does what I say do.”
I’ve got news for you.
I did what every boy said to do.
I was born to it,
laid out for my first baby pictures
a welcome mat in rosebuds and ruffles.

Sweet Southern submission
runs through my veins.
Christmas morning,
when you peppered shoe-shaped bruises
onto my legs and back,
I apologized to you
for having ruined the holiday.
You didn’t feel like turkey,
so I packed it, and all the fixins,
my mother’s most special recipes,
into Tupperware and into the fridge.
We took our baby girl, picked up Chinese food,
used the diaper bag to sneak it into some new sci-fi movie.
I don’t care for science fiction,
but you’ll never hear that from my mouth.

Sweet Southern submission
is in my bones.
so much so that when you broke my arm,
I denied it for almost a week.
All day I cooked, cleaned, changed diapers
with one hand. At night the pain.
I stuffed a handful of nightgown into my mouth,
let my tears silently soak the pillow,
so as not to disturb your sleep.
I finally snuck out to the hospital while
you were at work.
Neither of us ever mentioned the cast.

Next time you tell me you’ll kill me,
I believe I will go on and lie down,
in the dirt, on my own.
I’ve been slowing my heart for you
little by little, for years now.

I never wanted to be any bother.

Category: Featured, Fiction, Poetry