Poetry by Karen Shepherd
I did what I was told, that’s what good girls did.
The pews and plaid skirts, the genuflecting,
the rosary beads between my fingers,
saying prayers for people far away,
for people I didn’t know while daddy
gave mommy a black eye, while mommy
taught me about make-up and scarves,
while I practiced how to be quiet like in church.
I hold so many stones in my pockets
Grandma and grandpa were high society folks,
sipping gin and tonics with the right people,
then sending daddy to fetch them from bars
that he wasn’t old enough to enter.
Most houses had gardens planted with sorrow, joy, loss, laughter.
Daddy’s house was built on an estate seeded with anger.
I hold so many stones in my pockets.
Now, he holds Mom’s hand as we walk around the pond.
He says he could have been a better father, better husband.
I tell him I love him, and he shows me how
to throw a pebble so that it skips across the surface.
He says it’s the spin that keeps it stable while it bounces.
We readjust our angle and keep trying.
I hold so many stones in my pocket.
Karen Shepherd lives in Portland, OR where she enjoys walking in forests and listening to the rain. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in various online and print journals including most recently Elephants Never, Neologism Poetry Journal, Cirque Journal and Mojave Heart Review. Follow her at on Twitter.