by Susana H. Case
Of course, she didn’t trust
your gestapo blurt of words.
She came from a culture
abused by authority.
You wanted her at the precinct,
couldn’t have known
she’d look for an excuse
to stay home. She was
agoraphobic, partly deaf.
You couldn’t see that you were
interfering with her desire to ship
me off to college, then marriage
in one smooth arc.
You pretended to mean well,
but as I listened in on the extension,
the force with which
you’d pulled me from the car
where I was kissing the boy
—just kissing the boy—
then grabbed and rifled through
my wallet, fingered your gun,
made me doubt your good
intentions. I hope you were gentler
with any daughters
you may have had, not
the snarling dog I saw,
bulky, with cheesecloth skin,
like a horror-movie cop, an anger
that still makes me hold
my breath when I see the police.
To you, it was all about the boy
—if you didn’t like him,
that was all it took. You couldn’t see
the harmlessness of kissing.
You never fully saw the girl
who stood there trembling,
who hadn’t yet learned to do half
the things you accused her of doing
with your screamed obscenities.
Next day, my mother mentioned
the call, asked if I thought she should
go to the station. How does it feel
to know we never spoke
of you again? No, I reassured her.
Susana H. Case is an author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train, 2020, from Broadstone Books, which won a Pinnacle Award for Best Poetry Book, a NYC Big Book Distinguished Favorite, and was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. With Margo Taft Stever, she has co-edited the anthology I Wanna Be Loved By You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, forthcoming in 2022 from Milk and Cake Press. Her poetry collection The Damage Done is forthcoming from Broadstone Books in 2022. http://www.susanahcase.com