Smile, Sugar

when your palm pressed

against mine, you unzipped

those pearl homilies

tallied across your skin

and showed me your reasons

for keeping count. I saw

 

your mother hiding

in the medicine cabinet, clinging

to the brown bottle —

her stash of tiny anchors

while you have none

 

your father’s whiskey-spit,

his fists, his laugh, the limp

you blamed on pulled ligaments

 

and that boy, who

put red flowers in your mouth

and told you to smile more

so you taste better.