Mother by Amanda Crum

It can’t have been easy, growing up in that house on the hill.
The town below clucks and wrings hands, men stand at screen doors

to form a silent neighborhood watch. He was different, but someone
should have seen, noticed the young sapling foundering from poisoned roots.

Questions arise like steam on the blacktop, trickling down through the church
and behind the hands of curious teens. They point with trembling, dirty fingers

to the ancient gables stabbing their sky, an intruder living as one of them for decades, and wonder aloud how many skeletons fill the walls. Why did he stay? they ask.

Why does a sailor endure the storm? The allure of the fathoms, the scent of brine and electricity crackling between fingertips, the knowledge that danger
is what a seagull means to a trout.

Inside there was only comfort, a womb made of dark wood and chaste cotton, where decay bloomed like peonies across the walls. Where before only the sea brought the scents of salt and iron,

here they live in carpets and dirt-floored basements, in the porcelain of bathrooms and the plates in the sideboard. It can’t have been easy, they say to one another

over pot roast and mashed potatoes,
It can’t have been easy, sharing all that blood
With a woman who shared his.

Amanda Crum is an artist and writer whose work can be found in publications such as SQ Magazine, Blue Moon Art and Literary Review, and Dark Eclipse. Her first chapbook of horror poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow, made the shortlist for a Bram Stoker Award in 2015. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children and feeds a healthy obsession with horror movies in her spare time.

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