by Sasha Banks
Nine years old. A humble offering of thick
braids and flat feet, I tell my grandmother
that I hate my father.
Shove the word off the cliff of my mouth
and watch it drop. The weight of the 'h'
slamming into the 't'. My grandmother's
face razors open a smirked hive of teeth.
A laugh splits
from her belly, circles its way
through twisting cigarette smoke.
She stares at the word floating there,
between us. Doesn't shout for me
to pull it from the air and swallow it.
Or warn me to apologize
until my knuckles are a little softer,
My grandmother laughs at my hatred
like it is a cruel joke between friends,
told over cocktail music and
I am nine.
And maybe hatred is funny.
Maybe how easily it trickles its way
into small things is funny. Maybe
the way it pours itself into the shape
of nine year-old things
My grandmother laughs.
I throw my head back
and follow her lead.