Elizabeth Ellen

We are spread out on her floor, spread out on our backs staring up at the canopy of her bed, our makeshift sky. Our bodies open and close to one another, turn away from and toward. Amidst the cockroaches and palms. Here. In her/my/our father's house.We are spread out on our backs when she says it. Spread far enough that I have to stretch to touch my fingertips to hers; far enough that her voice feels distant and fuzzy as though reaching across a telephone wire rather than spanning the scope of the room. Spread out when she tells me how yesterday she overheard her mother telling the neighbor lady that where I come from, where I live, we have dirt for floors. She says it real plain, like she's telling me her mama made blueberry muffins again for dinner, but I don't take it that way. I push myself up onto my knees and reach out for her. I reach for her and wrap my hands around her neck. I hold her like that. I look into her face, searching it for some piece of myself that I don't find. I tell her, there's a difference between wood and dirt. I call her stupid and as I do so, feel my hands cling tighter to her flesh. I hold her like that until her face turns from red to white and somewhere in the very corners of her eyes and on the flat plains of her cheeks I find some little part of myself. And I let go.