The Pamphlet
by LeeAnn Pickrell

A February afternoon warmer
than it should have been in Dallas.
Reagan was president and I was wearing shorts
but I was drunk then, too,
so what I remember blurred by the vitamin C
and vodka I drank for breakfast that morning.
Sent home instead of being given licks
since I was a girl.
My mother asked why? sitting on that sofa
that curved around our wood-paneled den walls
as I curved in on myself. Why?

I told 'cause -- I don't know why. I just did.
A psychologist might say I was asking for help.
I'd say I was the PTA president's daughter
wasn't supposed to show up at school drunk,
trying to get out of that trouble, I said,
He forced me to have sex.

My half brother, her half son,
intertwined at two a.m. on the opposite side
of that ranch style dwelling we both lived in.
What I didn't admit to --
my own complicity, how I acquiesced --
after all it was love being offered
and who was I to disdain the form it came in.
What I didn't admit to -- it hadn't stopped,
wouldn't stop for two years past that moment.
We'll get him help, she said.

I pleaded for her silence,
for her not to tell --
my father's children having sex,
to be the disgust in his flared nostrils
to lose both -- father and brother.
And maybe she saw that, too,
the danger in a myth's implosion, for

she kept my secret and I hated her for it.
The pamphlet came later
as she watched me rip myself into pieces
I auctioned to the lowest bidder.
Slipped between my books for school --
French and Shakespeare --
If you are a survivor of incest, we can help.
A number to call.
The pamphlet I tore in eighths and flushed away.

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