pale-straw teddy bears, Sunbathing Barbie
and Barney look onward.
Set just so, they listen
for those telling stairs – that creaking wood
in time with his careful climb.
She watches the knob turn,
the door opens. He slides his clothes off,
jerks back the Raggedy-Ann sheets
and creeps in. She never meets
his eyes, instead fixes on the ceiling.
He forces himself into her and,
scrunching her eyes tight,
she goes to her citadel.
They are waiting for her: lime pansies
and a purple sycamore read from giant storybooks.
The pony’s always it when they play tag…
She’s back in her room where
he’s leaving and reminding her
never tell never tell.
She rolls over, buries her face in the pillow
and calls out to them. They had promised
to stay with her until it was over, and it wasn’t.
It was too soon she tells them, too soon.
They reach down to stroke her hair.
Tomorrow we’ll keep you longer, they say,
we’ll keep you longer next time.
Janée J. Baugher holds an MFA in Poetry and is the author of two ekphrastic poetry collections, The Body’s Physics (Tebot Bach, 2013) and Coördinates of Yes (Ahadada Books, 2010). Her nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have been published over 100 journals, including The Writer’s Chronicle, Boulevard, NANO Fiction, Nimrod, and The Southern Review.