child’s touch

on the weekend after her brother’s twenty-
first birthday, junebug finds herself
in the backseat of her mother’s car, a baby
buckled into a car seat next to her.
in another story, junebug might tell you
that only her brother’s name on this child’s birth
certificate has roped him into the family, his
blood lines following some other DNA trail.
she might tell you, too, that for his twenty-first
birthday, junebug’s brother did visit the liquor
store for a bottle of jack daniels–to use
as an ingredient in a marinade; or that, when she
breathed, our father hurt me, he wrapped her
in burly arms & believed.
but this is not a poem about her brother–not
exactly–but the son he chose to love, the child
next to junebug in the backseat who is poking
his fingers into her mouth.  she allows
her teeth to rest on the soft pudge wrapping his
bones; he laughs & pushes them in further.
then she spits them out & hides her face behind
the thick arm of his car seat, watching
his chubby, bright face with one tired eye.
he smiles, his mouth full of tiny teeth, & touches
her hair.  she lowers her head, exposing to him
the part in her hair, & his fingers snake
through the soft strawberry curls, curious
& slow, unlike the way he pets animals
in hard pats with his whole hand.  she waits
for him to gather fistfuls, to tug & yank, but
he doesn’t.  for the rest of the ride home,
he draws out her hair easy & slow.
junebug rests her head.  she closes
her eyes.

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