Ode to Lois

Angel Nafis

Who married Dad after only two weeks. Who stole and sold and smoked away the house. I never say this, but, it wasn’t perfect before you either. He was always at work and too arrogant to be whole. Middle school dropout, Mr. Know-It-All who spits when he talks. Get him mad enough and Ragdoll was your name. Paper thin temper. From where he stood, everything he said was kingdom. He never listened. He wasn’t patient. Our blood was a choke chain: You’re lucky I don’t leave y’all. Just wait. You got one more time. I could just throw my hands up. 

If you never found us. If his lonely hadn’t made you beautiful. If his lonely hadn’t made him animal. If you were Black. Or sober. Or honest. Or lovely. If you’d kept your hands to yourself. If you never multiplied. If you were older than 35. If I were older than 18. If I had never been a ruined girl. A homeless teen. Would I have packed everything I couldn’t leave into a backpack? Would I have mastered the art of carrying? Would I ever leave? Mess that we were, it never seemed bad enough to change. We were Muslims, I’d never even seen a beer in the fridge. White people were The Devil. I can laugh and smile with anybody don’t mess with ’em, my self though. It was an impossible thing that happened, and so we all got new eyes. Lois, perfect hurricane. When you died, when he had to bury you alone. When he had to look at his hands. His face was finally in front of me. He became mine. He was humbled. Brought to the ground. The floor. The mud.