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N O V E M B E R   1 9 9 3

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by Linda Gregerson

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Also by Linda Gregerson:
Target (1996)
Safe (1990)

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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
his renewable turn-on,

and my brown-and-golden sister at eight-
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
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.

Copyright © 1993 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; November 1993; For the Taking; Volume 272, No. 5; page 132.

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