My daughter, fifteen, texts:
I’m not coming home. She’s told
her boyfriend she’s afraid we’ll hurt her. This child
who’s never been spanked, will soon slug
me in the jaw and bite
her father as he holds her
in a bear hug
so she can’t walk
with packed bags.
………….But now her boyfriend’s mom locks
her inside, yelling Stay out of my yard. She threatens
to call the cops. I stand in the street and helplessly
watch the spring sky, a gray
ocean of clouds. Rain
but no rainbow, no
silver lining, no augury
………….telling me how to raise a girl
who skips school, breaks family rules, grabs the steering wheel
and sneers I could kill us both, you know. She threatens
to jump off the roof onto the driveway below, begins
………….I stand outside her boyfriend’s house,
at the dead bat
flattened on the pavement.
My mother calls our daughter
Ugly, despite her blue-eyed
porcelain-doll face. My mother-in-law
says, She’s not really sick.
My mother claims, It’s no wonder
she is—with her two grandmothers
bipolar or depressed. My mother-in-law
assures me, It’s not your fault. You haven’t
done anything wrong. Our daughter
is like a tornado, unpredictably
stirred up from springtime
lightning storms, pressure systems.
All we can do is batten down.
Squat in the bathtub and be strong
like the year we moved
to Texas. My mother-in-law called
one afternoon, Bring in the children!
The twister unpeeled roofs to the green
sky, blew out high-rise windows
tricycles and baby dolls flying.
© Susan Ayres
Susan Ayres is a poet, lawyer, and translator. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing with a Concentration in Translation from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a PhD in Literature from Texas Christian University. Her work has appeared in Sycamore Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Fort Worth and teaches at Texas A&M University School of Law.