INCEST

When I was little and he was Big Brother,
Big Brother caught me

under covers

"watching" me for mama.
With mama's negligent encouragement
When I was little and he was Big Brother

"be friendly, sisterly..."

On his lap--right under her nose.

"Never tell."

Mama would be angry.
And, we both understood,

would be hurt.

Older now, as is he, mama is dead.

And there is only that word
incest
Between us.

Big Brother insists I'll understand later.
Later seems a farther distance each year

Still it is unspoken.

Unspoken except in a certain stiffness that overtakes me when he approaches
Approaches drunk or maybe just extra warm
Warm lovers I may tell to let them in on a little nasty secret
Secret about why I may recoil, perhaps involuntarily
Involuntarily assuming unsanctioned access
Access to innermost intimacies
Intimacies in me that may seem involuntary incest
Incest I'll understand later
Later never coming
he caught me
never tell
under covers
"watching" me for mama
negligent
older now
we both understand
I would get hurt

Vernyce Dannells
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