Marlene Mae Talks About Denial

When Daddy began his long forget,
stashing his checkbook in the potato bin,

Mother tried to teach him new things,
how to dry dishes and shatter them away

while my sister Alice Ann, our tried and crude believer,
maintained we could rebuild Pop’s mind,

let the flood of forgetfulness become a drop in the shove-it,
shrink the mountain back to a molehill.

If he just played games, she said—
hearts, dominos, spin-the-bottle, pinochle, poker, chess—

he’d remember more and suffer less,
her old belief that self-help was as easy as whelping

which, birthing that ten-pound monstrosity of hers,
she should have known, was not.

Me, I knew all along, whatever Alice Ann said
about my hell-bound loss of hope and lack of faith,

our father’s last tactic, repressing everything,
is what would save us,

who in their right mind
can bear what we have done?

LOIS MARIE HARROD’s thirteenth and fourteenth poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press in 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online zines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches creative writing at The College of New Jersey. Read her work at Read her contributor spotlight.