Beast and Beauty

Vievee Francis

He took me like a mother, drew my head toward himself,

pulled me onto his lap, wrapped his arms around me and cooed

into my hair, softly as if I was dreaming and

                he didn’t want to wake me.

He sang a song that sounded like birds singing in the sycamore

then tree frogs. I wanted to leave. I stayed where I was.

He wore a lovely shirt. His hair was surprisingly kempt.

There was half a candle-piece and a rug of quarters. Tomato soup

on the stove. I thought, “What a shirt.” I prayed my breasts

would magically spill from the zipper. I wanted to feel my calloused heels

on his thighs. I wanted to linger ’til dawn. His pared nails scratched

an itch that had eluded me for years. I cried as if I were slicing onions

in his kitchen. He was a good mother. He held me, like a daughter,

and I was as beautiful, as he believed me to be.

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