In the days before seatbelts we came to a bridge
through a fine, dark rain. You held the baby on your lap,
as mothers did then, nearly crushing her as we swerved
into the guardrail then hung there over the river, swollen
and waiting for us to fall. Which is when fate first held
and loved me. Just three, I’d flown through the gap
in the bucket seats and bruised my temple on the dash.
Your shins were gashed, and a familiar tool shed smell
blossomed to mix with rye fumes steaming from his skin
and leather jacket. A smell I did not, then, identify as blood.
In the hush of rain still falling onto the back
of our shiny black bug, its wings folded, oncoming lights
found cracks in the windshield. And soon, the reassuring
scream of sirens. Beyond that, the other side of the bridge,
a blurred and swaying expanse of years I would find hard to navigate.
It was put to me one time
that to every story there are two sides.
It takes two to tango and so on.
Sure, she had that filthy habit.
She chain-smoked Rothmans
by the window for thirteen years,
got stoned on Triavil, a little something
from Dr. Wilson for the nerves.
But no, as I recall,
it was he who came home drunk
each night and struck
a match, burned down all our days
with us inside them.
Now listen up all you A-holes
who couldn’t make it with the missus,
who ran off, got down on your luck, did time,
came crawling back, begged forgiveness
then did it all over again.
Fuck you for singing your suck-ass songs
up and down my childhood hall.
For the nap he’d take after on the couch,
going down like the winter sun as the last twang faded
and the hurt bars of silence
Holding us all prisoner
till black-windowed dark and supper.
The hours he dreamed of horses with two heads
or being dragged through a forest
by the feet
and who knows what other horrors
he could never tell anyone about.
Deanna Young is the author of two books of poems, The Still Before a Storm (Moonstone Press) and Drunkard’s Path (Gaspereau Press), with a third forthcoming from Brick Books in the fall of 2014. In 2013 she won the PRISM international Poetry Contest. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where she is artistic co-director of the Tree Reading Series. “Black Bug” was previously published in Arc magazine; “Country Music” at Ottawater.com.
Visit Deanna Young’s page at poets.ca: http://poets.ca/members_data/node/519