My cousin Lynette says she's tired from cleaning
East Main houses of rich bitches. They don't even shit
like us, got toilet seats that float to the bowl,
never make a sound, and she hands me the baby
over the front seat. Days off Merry Maids,
we like to drive her '97 Trans Am to Atlanta,
KD Lang over eight speakers.
I'm tired too, tired of being the babysitter.
Leah grabbing my earrings, covering me in crumbs.
She bites off the heads of animal crackers.
The kid only eats heads. Go figure. Lynette runs
into the outlet mall for Juicy jeans. Don't know why
I hang with her. She's like the girl who used
to cut my hair at Cinderella's. Said I had the ugliest
strands she'd ever seen and I kept going back for more
till Lynette said I didn't need to pay for that shit.
Yeah, well, Lynette's one to tell me outright
she's sexy and I'm not. We both know it.
Junior high she called me a mutant. Tits like raisins
on a fifteen-year old's wrong, she said.
Mama took me to the doctor and he shook his head,
maybe you've done something God didn't like,
so He's punishing you. Could be
God just didn't like me cause I sure
didn't think much of Him, and still don't.
At least Lynette is a good mother.
When the kid has fever, Lynette won't go
to work. Says she'd rather lose her job
than leave a sick baby at daycare.
Guess that's why I hang with her.
She might call me names, but let somebody else do it,
she'd scratch their eyes out. At the Sonic,
some boy from Crossville leaned in the window,
drop the fat chick, let's go driving.
She clawed his left cheek and screeched away,
tray still on the car, cokes & fries flying.
Son of a bitch thinks he can dump on you and have
a good time with me. Stupid bastard.
I thought Lynette would always be the one to leave.
Good looking. Smart. She never let anybody
walk on her, or me, though she did
what most Cochran girls do after getting their
driver's license. She got knocked up.
Wouldn't tell a soul who the father was.
We all thought it was Sonny Cruz. He went
to Iraq in August and sent Lynette email everyday.
Like they were junk, she'd hit delete.
He started writing letters she stacked on her dresser,
unopened. Keeping in touch with soldiers
is talking to the dead, she said. Sonny could come back,
I say. Lots of boys make it. Lynette turned away,
he might, but he won't be the Sonny I knew.
After homecoming she carries his letters out to the grill.
They catch on the third match.
We stand there watching, as every last word
turns to ash.