For the Taking

And always, the damp blonde curls
on her temples
and bountifully down to her shoulder blades,
the rich loose curls all summer mixed with sand
and sweat,
and the rare, voluptuous double
curve of her nether lip—most children lose
that ripeness before
they can talk—and the solemn forehead,
which betokens thought and, alas
for her, o-
bedience, and the pure, unmuddied line
of the jaw, and the peeling brown shoulders—
she was always
a child of the sun . . . This
was his sweet piece of luck, his
find,
his renewable turn-on,
and my brown-and-golden sister at eight-
and-a-half
took to hating her body and cried
in her bath, and this was years,
my bad uncle did it
for years, in the back of the car,
in the basement where he kept his guns,
and we
who could have saved her, who knew
what it was in the best of times
to cross
the bridge of shame, from the body un-
encumbered to the body on the
block,
we would be somewhere mowing the lawn
or basting the spareribs right
outside, and—how
many times have you heard this?—we
were deaf and blind
and have
ever since required of her that she
take care of us, and she has,
and here’s
the worst, she does it for love.
—LINDA GREOERSON