Market Day in the Children’s Home
There was a room full of donated clothes
sticking out from the Admin Building’s gray
stone sides. It resembled a garden shed;
cheap vinyl siding and a rickety
plywood door pointing to the parking lot.
Local Presbyterian churches sent
black plastic garbage bags full of worn shirts,
high-waisted, stone-washed jeans, and disjointed toys
which were sorted into piles according to kind.
We called what we did there shopping, as though
we had a choice beyond approximate fit,
as though we were not picturing the groins,
the breasts, the lives of the bodies who filled
these forms before us, breaking them down.
In My House-Mother’s Office
Once a month I’d lie flat on my stomach
(cigarette ashes and polyester
carpet fibers blackening my hip bones)
and write thank-you notes to the church members
who donated my allowance. She said,
‘They sent you fifteen dollars this month. Tell
them you spent half on a CD and gave
the rest as your tithe to our on-campus
church.’ The carton near her hand was empty.
She plucked another from the pile and shook
free a pack of unfiltered Marlboros,
lighting one from the hot butt in her fat,
red hand. ‘Sweet talk them. You’re good at big words.
Maybe next month they’ll send more. The taxes
are so high on these things I need every cent.’
I lied pretty well to those church women.
It was easy. All I had to do was
pretend that I had enough energy
to want more than escape. Besides, having grown
up in churches, I knew what kind of story
my audience preferred; grateful, and sweet.
On TV, the fickle Wheel of Fortune turned.
It was a pleasure to mask my life in words.
Bethany W Pope is an award-winning author. She has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012), Crown of Thorns (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014) and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). Her collection, The Rag and Boneyard, was published in April 2016 by Indigo Dreams and her chapbook, Among The White Roots, will be released by Three Drops Press in Autumn 2017. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in June 2016.