Nonnie says I am a spoiled, glossy child
my father’s fault
for reading books over my crib
I could not have understood.
To a woman who banks between mattresses
thrift is important -- even with words.
And see here, now
I have my palm extended
for what I can’t afford.
I asked her once for butterflies from Florida.
She sent me chameleons
stapled to a board.
This is not how I imagined life
where the money of next year’s widow
means a roof over my head
and food in my mouth.
I am keeping the weight down, yes
I am doing my best.
My father, she continues
lifted the glass
that feeds my mother’s addictions.
I imagine whisky-brown Manhattan tumblers
sliding rings on a Formica table
on the other side of this call, and I think
Do you really believe we are the victims
of the men we choose to marry?
Your mother made gin in a bathtub to subsidize.
We all do what we have to.
We all get by.
Nonnie wrestled the keys once
from my mother’s hands.
Now she itemizes my flaws,
drops denouncements from her afternoon tongue
pending two o’clock dinner, pink ham
and Jello with fruit
in suspended animation.
Nonnie says she’ll think about it, minces love.
I hang up, light a cigarette, and wonderif maybe I would rather starve.
By Shannon Connor Winward
Shannon Connor Winward’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pseudopod, Gargoyle, Pedestal Magazine, Star*Line, Strange Horizons, Literary Mama, and Flash Fiction Online, among others. Her fiction placed in the semi-finals of the Writers of the Future Contest, and as runner-up for an Emerging Artist Fellowship in Literature by the Delaware Division of the Arts in 2014 and 2015. Her poetry chapbook, Undoing Winter (Finishing Line Press, 2014) was nominated for an Elgin Award.
--from the archives of The Broadkill Review
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