Both my parents were born
in the Year of the Horse
and horses were considered
impossible to marry,
impatient, competitive and highly strung.
Father was a miniature show pony
with short legs that kicked surprisingly hard
especially when you were already down.
He cheated around to confound
my anxious know it all mother
who was a Stallion in comparison.
She emasculated him with her
superior intelligence and quick wit
that’s when he would hit
slap her to make her quit
proving him wrong again.
My sister was regal and mean
Cinderella and the Evil Queen
all in one over-achieving persona.
She hid the family’s blunders
under cheerleader cheerfulness.
She was voted Friendliest in her high school
Brady Brunch defined her normal.
I hated her for hating me
for torturing my childhood with jealousy.
She preached to me day and night about
Salvation Damnation Condemnation
and the secondary role of women.
My brother was the only safe ally.
He wasn’t perfect, but mostly was to me
a savior an anchor a mentor
more father to me than our father.
He earned the respect
Father never could get.
Coercion and force breed rebellion.
Brother gave me books, movie passes,
spending money for simple chores.
He understood empowerment
how to share wealth and knowledge.
Everyone needs at least one ally to survive childhood.
These memories grow old with me
of a lost life I strangely miss
despite the injustice and terror.
Those rare good times we had
shine brightly in the darkness.