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“Do you have any children?”
“No, Your Honor.”
“Then, why do you repeatedly shoplift children’s clothes?”
“I don’t know.”

Shame visited my childhood nighttimes and hunted me like a dog seeking his heated bitch.

Sometimes, it felt good–
like the ocean after a storm,
full, spent, spiraling into stillness.

Most of the time, I disappeared into the ceiling
above our intermingling bodies and sin smells,
above his admonishments not to tell.

Promised, future violence–
Mommy, Daddy, Junior– dead in their beds.

But, you can’t tell judges and court clerks, even in a whisper,
you steal clothes to grieve the murdered girl,
biting her thumb, within you.

So, I take the time and am led, limping away,
shackled.

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