Shelter Lullaby

Face buried into her warm bread smell,

I cannonballed into dreams of flying;

she kept watch with her good eye,

trained on the roaches in the ceiling.

 

I cannonballed into dreams of flying.

Just a little while, she said, 

good eye trained on the roaches in the ceiling,

in the room beneath the church of the sisters of mercy.

 

Just a little while, she said, 

wearing a bandage over the other eye

applied by the sisters of mercy after we fled,

and she changed it when she thought I could not see.

 

Wearing a bandage over her blinded eye,

she left the bed when I was asleep

and she only changed it when she thought I could not see,

and then she danced.

 

She left the bed when I was asleep

for the basement where the music played

and then she danced

with the other women in a circle, and they laughed.

 

In the basement where the music played

danced Leti, and Patrice, Maria and Janae

with the other women in a circle and they laughed,

away from the men they had survived.

 

Danced Gina and Kira, Shondra and Renee,

and my mother, and I, for the time being,

away from the men we had survived —

and you should have seen her dance.

Stacey Johnson writes and teaches in San Diego County, where she is a current MFA candidate at San Diego State University. Her work has appeared in The Adirondack Review, A Year In Ink, and various small online publications. She lives with her daughter, Grace, and their cat.

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