Next Door Nancy With The Stringy Hair
~after Francine J. Harris
Your sister and I were the same
age and you, only four years older,
did all the chores - cooked dinner, washed
dishes folded laundry. Your family raised
huskies, the dogs quiet unless you
walked into the backyard, a bucket full of kibble,
this twice daily chore yours alone.
Nancy, with your scarecrow shoulders
and straw hair, dropped your head
when your sister, my friend, called you
names: stupid, lazy, slut. When I saw my playboy
brother crawl out of your window late one night
I whispered those words to the dark
sky: stupid, lazy, slut. You were the bitch
of the family, took the abuse, hid the bruises
with blue-green eyeshadow that sunsetted
across your eyelids. Nancy, I was only
thirteen, I didn’t understand. We waited
in silence for the bus each day, your body tired
from your morning chores, your eyes focused
on the grass that needed cutting, your task
to complete before cooking dinner. The day
you turned eighteen you married an Air Force
guy, moved out, never looked back. By then
I was no longer friends with your sister, having
learned her venom was not solely for you.
I don't know if it was love or escape you sought
but Nancy, with your thin hair and skeletal body,
I hope you found it.
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press). She is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: . Follow her on Twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.