Joshua Burton

I always wanted either three or six children. As a girl, I'd draw three lines on the doll’s face.
One red,           two black.

She was made of paper from a 60s beauty magazine. Her torso

                    is an upside-down triangle

dress. The body can be broken into thirds. I know this now.

One night, my father will come home late with a rifle in his hands
                    yelling “I’m here.” Everyone will laugh.

Every corner of the ocean is the same.

My brother came home with two black eyes today. My son, in his 20s, will later say
that he would kill him if he could.

My father was the provider of fear at home. I will spend years darting history
                    like my mother hiding money from him.

My other brother Benny said he can’t function without a drink.
My son will later say the same.

The doll’s arm tears by accident.

Even after I cut my hair for her I want to be her. She is tunnel-like, I use her
to move me.

                    I move through her sometimes
like wind through a reed or like water through a raft. Not to pivot her, but to crown me.
                                        And to lessen the look from everyone towards me.

Tell me something new about how it hurts us.

Author's Note: "History” is from a collection of poems about the life of my mother; this poem is written in the voice of my mother.