from "PARLIAMENT OF BABIES"
written by Jason Squamata
illustrated by Damian Zari
It's time someone taught you the ways of the world.
Before the lights dim and I put you to bed
Let me tell you what I knew when I was a kid.
I was little, like you, on a green leafy street.
My Mom and Dad taught me to always be sweet,
To smile and be gentle (or to seem so) all day.
But in the deep of my daydreams, my shadow would play.
When the grown-ups said "no", I'd do what they said.
When my bright eyes were closed, I'd imagine them dead.
When playtime was over, and Mom called me in,
I'd picture her screaming without any skin.
When some grown-up thing happened and Mom's shape changed,
She was feeding the stranger. No one else thought it strange.
Little sister was born, once a swell in Mom's belly.
I dreamt I could hammer soft flesh into jelly.
At five, I was special. For a time, that was true.
At six, so much is expected of you.
For a time, our house was all about me.
Then the little one came, making four out of three.
I knew if they knew the hate I held inside
When I snuffed little sis, there'd be nowhere to hide.
So I accepted the newborn with patience and grace,
Fluffing pillows with which I'd have covered her face.
Once neighborhood games were all made up by me.
Then with shame, I abandoned them, back home by three.
To look after baby, far from my friends.
The only joy left: when they'd let me pretend.
I pretended an accident, some bloody fuss
That would make my misshapen life what it was.
When the world was as big as the block where we lived
I planned nursery crimes no Mom could forgive.
I thought that's what life was: love outside, rage in
A masquerade contest that no kid can win,
Til the force of my will was the source of my shame.
I lived a white lie before Jessica came.