My Partner Asks if I Can Buy Him a New Belt

Amanda Galvan Huynh

At Macy’s I stand in front of the belt rack — all of them hang like tongues.

Their flesh hued from dirt to oak tree to night. I cannot bring myself

to touch them. An employee asks if I need help — but I am already walking

down the hallway to my parents’ bedroom. My hand against the wall

feels every bump until I stand in their closet. My mother waits

as I stare into the eyes of my father’s belts. Four: one braided.

One thick, glossy, the color of coffee. Another thin and the color

of a desk. The other a dull night. I press them between my fingers

to decide which one would hurt the least — but I know they can sing

about pain. They will all count my age — remind me of how old

I have become. Remind me of how I should know better. Remind me

to clean my room, to listen, to do as I’m told, to tell the truth, to come

home on time, to not trust boys, to not talk back. They will remind

me of the strength in my mother’s arm. They will remind her of her own

beltings, that this is the only way — a prayer — to keep me protected.


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