What is love—
Five years old and making
macaroni and cheese for herself
and her stuffed bear, Molly.
She sits alone in the middle—
laminate spirals of printed cedar
fracture around her,
like a crater from her depression.
A forkful goes to her mouth,
and as she chews, she lifts the fork
to Molly’s single-stitched mouth.
Baby don’t hurt me—
The surrounding furniture
was nice once. Cared for and clean.
But now it’s worn—
the leather couch scuffed and blurry,
distorting her reflection.
A reflection that watches
as she eats and feeds her bear—
cartoon bears dancing on the TV,
speaking of picnics and forests,
but the image is fuzzy with dust.
Don’t hurt me no more—
Dinner done, and dishes clean,
she takes Molly to bed, taking care
to read a pleasant bedtime story
and tucks the tired bear in. Her dry lips
catch on the ratted fur for a goodnight kiss.
She closes her eyes and pretends
to sleep when the front door opens.
Footsteps stiletto across the laminate,
and she turns her back
to the shadows underneath the door.
Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more.