There is an excess of it, even in childhood.
Beyond, its many forms follow you into

your grown and difficult life— It’s the reason
why there’s so much satisfaction to be derived

from reading stories that come to a tentative
winding down, if not emphatic resolution:

the suspense broken to reveal the man and woman
did not win the lottery, that the wounded father

is home from the war, that a heart is bricked up
under the dirty floor. The family has been taken

one by one into the woods, and the sharp
reports mean that they’ve been killed.

The grandmother, you know by now, is next.
It’s a kind of comfort to glimpse with certainty

what’s coming. When the father takes the fish
out of the sink and strikes its head with the edge

of a cleaver, you know the hands that sing
over the fire to make a meal are the same ones

that shattered glass, made dents in the wall,
gave you one of the maps you’ve learned

to conceal in your skin. Where there’s no
conflict, there’s no story— or so you’ve

been taught. But you long for smooth,
uncreased fabric after you’ve pressed

the heated metal plate repeatedly
across its garbled surface.

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