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The Pact

by
 We played dolls in that house where Father staggered with the
Thanksgiving knife, where Mother wept at noon into her one ounce of
cottage cheese, praying for the strength not to
kill herself.
We kneeled over the rubber bodies, gave them baths carefully, scrubbed their little orange hands, wrapped them up tight, said goodnight, never spoke of the woman like a gaping wound weeping on the stairs, the man like a stuck buffalo, baffled, stunned, dragging arrows in his side.
As if we had made a pact of silence and safety, we kneeled and dressed those tiny torsos with their elegant belly-buttons and minuscule holes high on the buttock to pee through and all that darkness in their open mouths, so that I have not been able to forgive you for giving your daughter away, letting her go at eight as if you took Molly Ann or Tiny Tears and held her head under the water in the bathinette until no bubbles rose, or threw her dark rosy body on the fire that burned in that house where you and I barely survived, sister, where we swore to be protectors.

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