after Emily Dickinson
There is a crescent moon scar
where my four year old toe slipped
into the too-wide gap in the stainless
steel bars of the fan on the floor,
and the waning evidence
of a lack of parental vigilance
where the fleshy part below my thumb
was pinched in the clothes wringer.
Before science and law dictated
the safest width and height,
made us fear the light,
we basted our skin with baby oil,
poured flat beer on our hair,
skated without elbow pads,
learned to flee or fight.
When first failed loves made their mark,
I begged for second chances.
When my father left the marriage,
my mother, me, I left
without a glance. Stoic,
just like him, untouched —
as I remain: a not admitting
of the wound, that waxing stain.
Betsy Mars is an LA-based poet, photographer, and educator. She is passionate about travel due to her childhood years in Brazil, and her love of animals is innate. Her first chapbook, Alinea, was published in January 2019. She recently launched Kingly Street Press, and her first anthology, Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife was released in October 2019.