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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

Afternoon in November


by Jeanna Paden

I can’t hear anyone talk
the refrigerator is buzzing
I have homework
we’re babysitting the neighbor’s dog

Daddy comes home around six thirty, or seven, or eight
It’s dark and raining hard
ting, ting on the metal roof
Momma tells me I’m a lighthouse
but I’m not sure

Daddy talks about big brother
unlacing his work boots
There’s always someone to beat you down
don’t be the one to hand over the bat

Little sister’s boyfriend moved to Ohio for a job
She cuts hair all day for women
who won’t tell her what they want
complains about her feet throbbing
takes the dog out for a walk

Momma lost her keys, forgets
asks me three times if I checked
between the bedsheets
The change in Daddy’s pocket
jingles through the bedroom door

Momma’s in the kitchen
hear her every other word
Obama, refugees
She trips over the neighbor-dog

They meet in the living room
Daddy’s voice is the cat’s yawn
I know, I know

I lay down in my tiny room
hear the tv that no one’s watching
on the other side of the wall

Voices hum in my ears
It’s raining harder now
carpet smells like urine
(from the neighbor-dog).
the refrigerator churns out a clump of ice
I count ting, tings on the roof
until I can’t hold my eyes open

Header photograph © Asher.

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