We cannot define voice
teeth rattling in the cracked noggin
bouncing off my stepfather’s hand.
A child brought you flesh
flowering with salty petals
to show you her pain
you questioned nothing.
“What is pain?” asked the heron
tossing back splintered moonlight
stabbed from amber water
darkening into silence.
The cattails had no answer
what lurked beneath lily pads
less menacing than log, lightless water
or the man who smacked me
for an elbow on the table, less opaque
than silence spilling from your lips
at the breeze of violence sloughing
through your house.
It was a bandana already crimson
less obviously ruined by lacerations
coagulating leakage of an inner sea.
What is the voice, splintered
with retribution, scattered in wiregrass
burying itself beneath pine needles.
The men that loved me in my youth,
that could fold me into a letter
of pleasure posted on some shady…
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