Next Door Nancy With The Stringy Hair

~after Francine J. Harris
Courtney LeBlanc

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.