STEEL IN THE SANDBOX

My mother was built from the bones of the earth.

She cut her teeth on a marriage to a man who loved like the papercuts on a backhanded apology,
Stitched a rattlesnake to her tongue and learned that

just because you’re shivering doesn’t mean you’re not a weapon.

My father was a rabid dog,
a cocktail of nasty temper and blue-collar pride,
a good old southern bred sinner doused in
hand me down church clothes that stunk of Marlboros.

The knot was already tied by the time they figured
loving each other was like trying to swallow Christmas lights for the heat, but just getting a liver full of glass in- stead.

My filthy feet used to be pincushions for that rickety porch,
hard calloused things that would stomp and studder down the stairs, the trodden tongue of the house that built me.

That dead end nowhere house with its peeling paper and
thick with secrets the way a coal mine tastes like soot,

black chalky things that stick in your throat and choke you til your eyes burn if you stay down there too long.

I used to sit on that fence for hours waiting for the storms to pass,
swing my wild dirt smudged little body and echo the creaking krr, krr, krr of the hinges with my rusty little voice box,

too far from any neighbors who could hear the sound of a war brewing in my belly.

When I was ten I watched the Wizard of Oz,
And couldn’t stop thinking about where you

click click clack your ruby heels home to when
Home is a word shaped like a loaded gun,

And maybe the Good Witch would be the one to
Rip it’s roots from the dull packed dirt, Leaving nothing but that metal gate and a scab on the earth,

Nothing but that krr krr krr whining in the wind.

Mel Walton
Savannah, Georgia, BFA Illustration