There is a thing
which sears her soul
and the pain of it
follows her through life

We gather each year
friends of sixty years
her laugh expands the walls
her smile as wide as the horizon

Each time we meet she cackles
about stingy neighbors
spits jokes of silly sister and brothers
did not marry, crazy loves her dog

Her speech sings inside giggles,
lives within this linguistic sureness
we laugh with her, love her tales
know she tries to seek ways
to wrench free from the terrible vision

I see her eighth-grade self, standing in front of class
reads a social study report she composed
dons the same J.C Penny’s red stretched-out sweater
navy plaid skirt hangs from her hips day after day

She waits for her dad on porch that evening
Her mom darns a wool sock
He spends evenings at corner bar
staggers home with lunch bucket open

Her mother calls to him
“We already ate.”
“You could have waited,” he slurs
a shot shrieks out

She screams like a belfry
rung by a madman, throws up
runs to her bleeding mother
her gaze goes deep into his angry eyes
emotionless, he digs the pistol into his temple

Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching in Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and is published in various literary magazines and reviews. She has spent time teaching in Nicaragua. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild. She is an Adjunct Professor at Touro University Vallejo California.