daughtersofnormabates











{July 27, 2012}   Back Seat

It’s where a lot of fights got started

with my brother and sister, especially

on long trips to those happy isles,

envisioned by my parents as the four-day

remedy to their everyday woe.

Being the oldest, I’d try to break it up

before the long arm of my father

reached back to swat our legs,

and mother yelled the predictable death threats

with descriptions, not of tropical beaches

but of orphanages, where children have to fight

for their food and no one loves them.

That was where I saw how unfair justice can be,

that punishment falls equally on the guilty

and the innocent, if efforts to keep the peace

fail, if the fighting doesn’t stop.

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