When Father Explains Shame To His Daughter by Jen Lambert

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

I thought they’d fall like paper cranes,
but they fell like stones.
They fell like night,
like a hard rain.

I thought they’d drop like feathers,
but they went like clay pots,
the tumble and quick of their small bodies
against pillar, against shake, against stone.

It was quick.
There was no one
but the ferns,
proud and baptismal,
quiet guards.

They know about darkness.

I won’t tell you about
how the weight of them dropped
so quickly, that their milk breath hung
in the thick air, and I won’t tell you about my hands
how they hung, curled and clawed,
over the wide mouth of the well.
I won’t tell you about the sound water makes
when it welcomes flesh.

Who am I to take a life, you ask?
Who are you daughter? Who are you to shame?
It was you who brought us to this well.
It was you who let them go.



Jen Lambert is a founding editor of burntdistrict and Spark Wheel Press, and her work has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies including most recently or forthcoming in PANK, Redactions, The Los Angeles Review, Boxcar Poetry Review and Raleigh Review. A fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Jen is currently living in Newfoundland with her husband and three wildly beautiful children.