These are the stories we tell each other
when gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table,
laughter piled on top of the cranberry sauce:
The time Daniel trapped the Fairy Barbie on the roof.
When I fell through a tree branch and
dangled by my neck until Mom could find help.
What we don’t say: the aftermath of my teacher calling my dad, and the experiment
to see if the belt would finally shut me up. My sister teaching me
to answer to Selfish, never addressing her without first saying I’m Sorry.
My mother’s Bible never stays on the pages with wrath and judgement.
It’s so much easier to talk about eating blueberries with Granny
than to remember her pinching my stomach after I ate a slice of birthday cake.
You were so sweet at those tea parties.
(Because I ate a sleeve of Fig Newtons
while singing old church hymns.)
I never apologize for the slammed doors
and scurrying ears. It’s not just my parents
who lean in to the suspicion of silence.
Some might say photos never lie,
but they don’t compete
with the hidden scar of family.
Taryn Miller has recently survived her first year teaching middle school and has started her second. Her poetry has been published in USRepresented and Eskimo Pie, amongst other publications.